No longer are health records something that sit in a folder in your doctor’s office never to see the light of day! The power of having personal health data at your finger tips is a new and growing phenomenon with help from Medicare Blue Button. Blue Button allows Medicare beneficiaries to access their health data on a website or mobile device and download their personal health data from a personal health record or from their doctors’, hospital’s or clinical laboratory’s patient portal. Since its launch, hundreds of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries have downloaded their personal health data. The power of personal health data has taken another step forward, with new opportunities between beneficiaries and their providers as demonstrated at Health Datapalooza III with the announcement of the Blue Button Mash Up Challenge.
To further fuel the unprecedented amounts of innovation in this area, the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have made some extensive infrastructure upgrades to increase the availability of claims data. Now, claims data from 12 to 36 months for Medicare Part A and B and 12 months of Part D claims data is now available. Medicare has a number of different programs; Medicare Part A is hospital insurance that helps cover inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facility, hospice, and home health care; Part B helps cover medically-necessary services like doctors' services, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, home health services, and other medical services. Part B also covers some preventive services and Part D is prescription drug coverage.
With the expansion of data available through Blue Button, consumers and IT developers alike have more power and potential at their finger tips to improve health care. The expansion of available claims data will provide a better picture of a person’s overall health and help individuals make more informed decisions regarding their own health. Additionally, expanded data will provide physicians more complete and accurate information to better understand the health status of a new patient and quickly assess recent treatment received by an established patient. With new data available, beneficiaries will not have to worry about digging through a file cabinet or trying to remember what procedure they had a year and half ago; now all they have to do is utilize Medicare Blue Button.
The new claims data is already being put to use to help consumers in choosing a Medicare Plan. CMS is utilizing the Medicare Part D data to populate the Medicare.gov Plan Finder Tool. This tool uses the previous 12 months of Part D claims to facilitate the establishment of a medications compilation which is used for the basis of determining which plan is most advantageous for the beneficiary, given their specific needs.
For developers, the expansion of Medicare Blue Button Data means more possibilities to create applications that makes personalized health data even more useful to consumers and providers. Developers like Napersoft and Humetrix, both of which demoed at Health Datapalooza III, have created applications that help beneficiaries use their Blue Button data and created new functionality to improve the consumer health care experience.
For more information on Medicare Blue Button visit the Medicare Blue Button website. To find a personal health record that can upload your blue button file, go to www.myphr.com.