One of the expectations of the meaningful use provisions in the HITECH Act is that it will spark more interaction between patients and physicians. It will also allow more information to be transmitted by automated secure text messages with an eye to improving adherence. But one key to greater engagement, say some physicians, is giving patients access to their own health records. Electronic health records company eClinicalWorks is investing $25 million in patient engagement tools, but the first is an app for Androids, iPhones and iPads to do precisely that, according to a company statement.
The app helps patients manage their medical records and those of family members, send messages to their providers, request medication refills and view lab results, the statement said. The platform helps providers develop compliance and wellness campaigns. The move by the Boston-area healthcare IT meets the requirements of the second stage of meaningful use, which requires patients be able to view, download and transmit their data. Last month, the Office of National Coordinator released guidelines for putting this requirement into action, known as Blue Button+.
The app is one component of the company’s new Health and Online Wellness Unit that will be connected to a patient information sharing portal launched for doctors in September. It will also facilitate remote monitoring for blood pressure, blood glucose monitors and pedometers. Data from those readings can be sent electronically to the patient’s health record CEO Girish Jumar Navani told eWeek.
Adherence is the top concern of physicians because without it, patients are more likely to not get better, or get sicker, which increases the likelihood of hospitalization for certain conditions and pushes up healthcare costs. Although there are a myriad of reasons why patients don’t take their medications or go to follow-up appointments, engaging patients is deemed essential because it offers the potential to improve patients’ comfort level with physicians and their conditions. The company’s patient portal already allows patients to access lab results, problem and medication lists, direct message doctors, and to send appointment and refill requests.
Giving patients greater access to their health records is part of a long-growing trend by patients demanding access to their medical records first articulated by patient communities, but which has percolated to a broader audience in recent years. That has been helped in large part by the Blue Button Initiative, developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs in collaboration with the Department of Defense and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to give military personnel access to their health records.