Care Delivery

What Is Blue Button? Why Do I Care?

RevisedBlueButtonlogowithmarkEditor’s Note: This post is authored by guest blogger Mary Anne Sterling. Mary Anne has been a thought leader in health information technology and health policy for over a decade. She serves on several healthcare advisory panels, a Federal Advisory Committee, and recently served as Executive in Residence for the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) Foundation, Institute for e-Health Policy.

  • Are you caring for an elderly parent? Are you trying to keep your child’s vaccination records up-to-date?
  • Do you have a health issue? Do you want to feel more in control of your personal health information?
  • Do you need to share your health information among several doctors? Are you changing doctors?
  • Do you need to find the results of a medical test? Do you need a current list of your medications?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need access to your health information or the health information of someone you care for. You may not be aware that you have the right to access it and healthcare providers must allow you to do so. When you have access to your health information, you can partner with care providers on improving the quality and safety of care that you or a family member receives.

To help you better understand why this should be important to you, I’ve asked Aaron Seib of the National Association for Trusted Exchange (NATE) to help me break down what this means and what you can do to help.

MA: Why would someone want access to their own health information?
AS: You have a legal right to receive your personal health information. Many people are not aware of this. When you have your health information, you can:

  • Share it with your doctors or trusted family members or caregivers
  • Check to make sure the information, such as your medication list, is accurate and complete
  • Keep track of when your child had his/her last vaccination
  • Have your medical history available in case of emergency, when traveling, seeking a second opinion, or switching health insurance companies
  • Plug your health information into apps and tools that help you set and reach personalized health goals.

These things are just too important to leave to others to manage for you. It’s time to take command of your health information. After all, it belongs to YOU.

MAS: It’s one thing to have access, but will the information be in an understandable format?  Will medical jargon be translated?  How will someone know what to do with the information?
AS: Our medical information is often difficult to understand and we don’t always have easy access to people who can explain it to us. Right now, it is imperative that people have access to their health information first and then we can work with patients, family caregivers, and app developers to ensure this information is presented to them in a way that they can better understand and use. The good news: we see multiple services already emerging that assist in translating complicated health data into accessible information for patients and family caregivers.

MAS: If I want to share my health information, can I choose what parts of my information I allow to be shared?  For example, will my mental health notes from my psychiatrist or therapist be made available to my primary care doctor?  Is it all or nothing as far as what is made available?
AS: Working in partnership with your doctors, you can decide what information is shared and for what purpose. But you must be actively engaged in managing your health information in order to do that. You may decide to share some information, all of your information, or nothing at all.

BlueButton-Logo-withtextandmarkv2 (2)MAS: How is my information protected? With all the hacking of retail, credit cards and even insurance accounts, how can I be sure my information is being kept safe, especially when I download it?
AS: Using ‘Blue Button” is one good way you can access your health records electronically. Millions of Americans can get easy, secure online access to their health records thanks to Blue Button. Health information about you may be stored in many places, such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, drug stores and health insurance companies. Ask your health care providers or health insurance company if they offer you the ability to view online, download, and share your health records via Blue Button and look for the Blue Button logo.

MAS: How do I talk to my doctor about getting access to my health information?
A: NATE has a letter that you can download from our website to make that conversation easier. The hardest part is getting the conversation started! But you will be glad you did when you have the peace of mind of knowing your health information is at your fingertips.

MAS: If someone is interested in knowing more about this topic, what are the best resources for more information?  
AS: NATE is not the only organization working to get patients and family caregivers access to their health information. Additional sources of information are:

Blue Button:

Other initiatives that you may be interested in learning more about:

Overall, having access to your personal health information, or the health information of someone you care for, is an important step in maximizing your health and the health of others. Now is the time to get involved in the discussion and request access to your own health information. Being a more informed healthcare consumer could save your life!

ILN Day 2: Innovation Safaris

Capital Bikeshare -- Innovating active transportation.

Capital Bikeshare — Innovating active transportation.

This morning, ILN in-person attendees got the chance to visit DC-area companies embodying innovation in their everyday work. Safari destinations included:

  • Capital Bikeshare – Technology to change the way we move, for health
  • NPR Headquarters – Disrupting broadcasting, building for health
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  (CFPB) – Financial health and behavior change at the 
  • National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center  (NICOE)
  • ONC Blue Button – Empoweirng patients with their electronic health record information  (SafariBlueButton)
  • OPOWER – leveraging the latest behavior change science to transform energy consumption  
  • Uniformed Services University (USU) Simulation Center (USUSIM)
  • MedStar Health’s Simulation Training & Education Lab (SiTEL)
  • The Bridge to ER One at MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Walter Reed Dedication

Walter Reed Dedication

 
ILN Attendees with the Surgeon General

ILN Attendees with the Surgeon General

Attendees hurried back to the Center for Total Health for remarks from Rear Admiral (RADM) Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., Acting Surgeon General of the United States, who reminded us that we haven’t failed until we stop trying.

The afternoon included more great speakers and a walking break to the Supreme Court. Tonight, we’re looking forward to a healthy dinner at 1776 with health startups on the cutting edge of technology and innovation.

 

Innovation Learning Network, In Person: Day 1

Yesterday, the Center for Total Health was excited to kick off the Spring Innovation Learning Network (ILN) In Person meeting after months of planning. In partnership with Kaiser Permanente, the Military Health System, MedStar Health and other organizations, the ILN convenes health care innovators from around the world to share ideas, problems, solutions, and inspiration.

Newly Titled Innovation Divas  Ted Eytan, MD, Chris McCarthy, Keith Montgomery, Tim Rawson

Newly Titled Innovation Divas
Ted Eytan, MD, Chris McCarthy, Keith Montgomery, Tim Rawson

The three-day conference has the theme of complex system change, and kicked off with tours of the Center for Total Health. Speakers included our own Keith Montgomery, executive director for the Center for Total Health, author Paul Plsek, and MedStar’sEd Tori. Themes included being willing to take risks (and possibly fail before you succeed) and moving to a focus on simple rules built by the users (rather than dictated by the top).

Ed Tori, MedStar

Ed Tori, MedStar

So much more to learn on days 2 & 3! Follow along on twitter via #ILN14 !

Photos of the Week: A Busy Thursday

Today was a busy day at the Center for Total Health. We were excited to welcome a range of guests from across the total health spectrum. Guests included a  group of nursing students from George Washington University, the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC), and Hal Ruddick, Executive Director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.

Lu Casa, ARNP, welcomes George Washington Nursing students

Lu Casa, ARNP, welcomes George Washington Nursing students

C-TAC's Advanced Care Project Kick-Off Meeting

C-TAC’s Advanced Care Project Kick-Off Meeting

Keith Montgomery, Executive Director of the Center for Total Health, and Hal Ruddick, Executive Director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, wearing two different types of fitness/activity tracking devices

Keith Montgomery, Executive Director of the Center for Total Health, and Hal Ruddick, Executive Director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, wearing two different types of fitness/activity tracking devices

IMG_1116

Photo of the Week: German IT Delegation

Today at the Center for Total Health, Kaiser Permanente International hosted a group of German Health IT delegates for an informational session. Joy Lewis, MPH provided an overview of Kaiser Permanente to set the context for the dialogue that followed. The group saw a KP HealthConnect demonstration and heard about being a physician Tom Tesoriero, MD, from the Mid-Atlantic Permanante Medical Group, followed by a discussion with Sandra Stuart, Executive Director of Health IT Standards. Sandra talked with the group about the future of HIT and shared some examples of how Kaiser Permanente is forward-thinking about the use of technology at four different care sites (hospital, clinic, home and virtual).

Dr. Tesoriero

Dr. Tesoriero

 

IMG_1107

Group Discussion

 

Sandra Stuart speaks to the group about Kaiser Permanente's approach to Health IT

Sandra Stuart speaks to the group about Kaiser Permanente’s approach to Health IT

 

The Next Total Health Focus at CTH: Connecting Patients & Social Support for Better Health

Posted by | Care Delivery, Center for Total Health, Community Health Initiatives, Experts, Health Innovation, Healthy Communities, Live Chat, Video | No Comments

Bookmark this post in your browser and return January 23 (3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern, noon to 1 p.m. Pacific) to watch the webcast live.

 

On January 23, the Center for Total Health will host the next Total Health and Technology Focus, this time looking at tools to support the social needs of patients.

Total health is about the mind, body and spirit. but there are other influences on our health — such as the community a person lives in, the environment that surrounds them and all their relationships that influence healthier behaviors.  Unrecognized needs such as support for housing, food/nutrition or other psycho-social stressors also have an impact on health.  Clinicians often feel unable or unprepared to address these needs.

Our January 23 event will feature Healthify and Health Leads, two organizations with innovative models that help people with unmet social needs connect to available community services.  Join us for a discussion on how clinicians can be part of a health system solution.

About the Organizations
Healthify  is:

  • a dynamic screening tool that identifies and quantifies the social and behavioral needs of your patients
  • a matching algorithm that finds, refers, and texts patients about the best resources for their needs
  • a dashboard to allow staff to search for resources and gain insight into their population

Health Leads works with clinics to connect patients to basic resources, improving health outcomes and patient satisfaction while lowering the cost of care. Health Leads enables doctors and other healthcare providers to “prescribe” basic resources like food and heat just as they do medication. The organization recruits and trains college students to “fill” these prescriptions by working side by side with patients to connect them with the basic resources they need to be healthy.

REGISTER HERE.

Please note that Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the products featured in these discussions.

 

Who Made the U.S. News Annual Top Hospitals Rankings?

Today, U.S. News & World Report came out with their annual list of the nation’s top hospitals.  Facilities ranking near the top of a minimum of six out of 16 specialties (e.g., cancer, neurosurgery) make the 2013-2014 honor roll, and after evaluating almost 5,000 medical centers, 18 made that cut.  This year, Johns Hopkins was named number one overall, followed by Mass General in the number two spot.

In addition to the overall rankings, the report also rates medical centers in most states and in major metropolitan regions (all U.S. regions with at least 500,000 in population).  Several Kaiser Permanente facilities in California and Hawaii were recognized in these rankings, as called out in this press release.

According to its website, U.S. News primarily uses objective data on hospital performance, such as patient survival rates, and structural resources, such as nurse staffing levels as a basis for rankings. Each hospital’s reputation, as determined by a survey of physician specialists, is also a factor determining each hospital’s rankings.  An FAQ on the ins and outs of the ranking process can be found here.

For patients under 18 and their caregivers, U.S. News published a separate Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll and rankings in 10 pediatric specialties last month.

 

Using Video Ethnography to Improve Quality of Care

Are you familiar with the practice of video ethnography? It is the use of interviews and observations in real time, coupled with video, to catalyze change and accelerate performance improvement. Teams at Kaiser Permanente are now in their fifth year applying this methodology to inform how they can improve care delivery.

Today, we are featuring a video produced by the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute all about video ethnography. It’s an excellent overview on how the organization is using the process to explore the patient experience, find opportunities for improvement, and make changes that will result in better quality of care. We will continue to explore this topic next week with an interview with Kaiser Permanente’s Estee Neuwirth, PhD, director of field studies, evaluation and analytics with the Care Management Institute.

Destination HIMSS: More on Care Connectivity Consortium

We continue our exploration of the Care Connectivity Consortium — a collaboration of five health organizations who have been trailblazers in the use of electronic health records. Geisinger Health System, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare and Group Health Cooperative have come together with a shared objective: Health information exchange that supports high-quality, patient-centered care for everyone in the United States.

Today’s videos touch on technology standards used to exchange health information between participating organizations, the link between interoperability and improved quality of care delivery, and how interoperability gives patients a voice in their own health care.

On Monday, we’ll share perspectives from a nurse and a patient. Remember, if you are in Las Vegas for HIMSS 2012, you can check out the first phase of the CCC’s health information exchange work in person at the Interoperability Showcase, located at booth #11,000 in Hall G, Feb. 21-23.

On the 30th World AIDS Day: Caregivers Reflect

In honor of the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, six Kaiser Permanente clinicians and leaders recently shared their thoughts and recollections about the organization’s 30-year journey in caring for people with HIV. Several of them are uniquely positioned to comment because they have worked for Kaiser Permanente for close to 30 years and have been a part of the global battle against HIV since the beginning.

In many ways Kaiser Permanente has shaped and improved how clinicians nationwide care for people with HIV. The organization cares for more people with HIV than almost any other organization in the United States; more than 20,000 HIV-positive patients today, and 50,000 patients with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic.

For more detail, visit the Kaiser Permanente history blog.

Explore the Center for Total Health Take Video Tour