- Some of the world’s largest tech companies have pledged to erase barriers that prevent consumers from accessing their own mHealth data when and where they want it.
In an unscheduled session at this week’s Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference in Washington D.C., representatives from Amazon, Google, Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM promised to “eliminate the friction that exists in healthcare today,” according to the event’s host, Information Technology Industry Council CEO Dean Garfield.
The vision of a connected health ecosystem that allows consumers to access their health data at any time and place from the mobile device of their choosing has long beguiled the healthcare industry, but interoperability issues have long kept that from happening.
Kicking off the inaugural conference on Monday, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma said the connected health ecosystem of the future will focus on a “healthcare record (that) collects all of our data throughout our lifetime — and not just the data we’re getting from the medical record, but it could be wearable technology, it could be your claims data.”
“Imagine all of that data aggregated in one place,” she continued. “Imagine if you could combine that with your genetic information, and that you would have the ability to take that information and give it to researchers, give it to your doctors?”
Last week, CMS gave an update of its work on a new version of the Blue Button, an open API tool that would enable the nation’s 53 million Medicare beneficiaries to access their information for almost five years. Called Blue Button 2.0, the platform has attracted some 500 organizations and 700 mHealth app developers.
“We’re trying to create this ecosystem where app developers can go and create tools that are really useful for beneficiaries and hopefully for the wider patient population,” Mark Scrimshire, who leads the Blue Button 2.0 announced at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Interoperability Forum.
Verma said the project, part of CMS’ MyHealthEData initiative, would position CMS at the forefront of the data access initiative.
“CMS is leading to support MyHealthEData by releasing more data and taking action to drive interoperability and patient control of their data,” she said at the conference. “We are calling on (the) industry to follow our lead and step up to the challenge. It’s time for the rest of the industry to do its part. I have called on insurers to begin releasing claims data as we did with Blue Button 2.0 and make data available to patients.”
With Monday’s surprise announcement, the tech industry is apparently ready to accept that challenge.