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Claims Data for PHRs (Blue Button)

Download Capability for Beneficiaries (Blue Button Initiative)

In January 2010 the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) were invited to attend a meeting with the Markle Consumer Engagement Workgroup. Discussion at the face-to-face meeting focused on how best to provide consumers with electronic access to data and to incent market innovators to create health information technology solutions using the data, to expand its usefulness for individuals. The workgroup expressed a strong desire for CMS and VA as “data holders” to participate in follow up discussions on the breakthrough idea of a download button (i.e. a “blue button” in the portal) that would enable individuals to download their electronic health data. Subsequent discussions on the potential for a demonstration project included a request for the creation and public availability of sample data sets from CMS and VA as a way to 1) advance understanding of the available data and 2) to begin to enable the identification and development of applications using the data to support consumer engagement.

Currently, Medicare beneficiaries can access their claims data on MyMedicare.gov, and can add personal information into that site as well. They can then create and print a report called the "On-the-Go report" to share with their caregivers and providers. CMS is interested in enabling beneficiaries to use their data with other health management tools, and is now conducting a project called "the BlueButton" through which beneficiaries can download their claims information in a simple file format, which can then be uploaded into a unique Personal Health Record application of their choice.

Similarly, Veterans can create and maintain a web-based Personal Health Record (PHR) with VA's My HealtheVet. My HealtheVet is intended to improve the delivery of health care services to Veterans, to promote health and wellness, and to engage Veterans as more active participants in their health care. The My HealtheVet portal enables Veterans to create and maintain a web-based PHR that provides access to patient health education information and resources, a comprehensive personal health journal, and electronic services such as online VA prescription refill requests and secure messaging.  Veterans can visit the My HealtheVet website and self-register to create an account.  In May 10, 2010, Medicare and CMS held a web meeting to show case the download options.  Copies of the presentations can be found in the downloads section below, as they are available.  The CMS and VA responses to the questions received during the May 10th meeting are also posted in the downloads section below. If there are additional questions, they may be sent to CMS at bluebutton@cms.hhs.gov  To access sample data files, to test your ability to upload and use the data, go to the "Related Links Inside CMS" section below.  

Medicare beneficiaries can download their data from mymedicare.gov, once they have created an account.  More information about Personal Health Records (PHR), how to find and select one and how to upload your data to one can be found in the "Related Links Outside CMS" section below.

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