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The interoperability group Health Level Seven International (HL7) has released a continuity of care document tool for the Blue Button app that converts existing CCDs into Blue Button ASCII text format.
A lot of electronic health record systems are already using CCD programs, and HL7’s tool generates Blue Button ASCII downloads without using a separate utility, said HL7 CTO John Quinn.
The CCD tool is coming as more health organizations and patients use Blue Button apps to manage helathcare records.
Centerstone, a national community-based behavioral health network, is going to use the HL7 CCD tool, along with Hello Health, a New York-based provider of EHRs, PHRs and physician practice management systems.
Linda Grove-Paul, director of substance abuse and forensic services at Centerstone of Indiana, said the Blue Button and CCD apps are helping the network improve and track coordination, giving care managers and clinicians “features which would have been too costly and complex to acquire without the tool.”
“The ability to support both the CCD for electronic exchange of information and the Blue Button for
text and print presentation is an important step in our effort to offer truly consumer-focused
integrated care,” Grove-Paul said.
Nathanial Findlay, CEO of Myca Health, Hello Health’s parent company, said physicians starting up EHR systems “sometimes overlook the ability to incorporate patients into the process.”
The Blue Button, an app developed by federal health and military agencies and now being heavily promoted by the Office of the National Coordinator, is easily added to Hello Health’s and other platforms. Findlay said the aim is to help patients “take a more active role in their healthcare through everything from the ease of ability to request and share patient record data to virtual visits that help them be better informed about their health.”
Ahead of meaningful use requirements for personal health record use, the Blue Button and other apps are gaining traction, as ONC and others are trying to spur the use of the technology across the industry and especially to patients. Over Thanksgiving last November, Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national health IT coordinator, signed up his parents for MyMedicare.gov on a mobile device, downloading three years’ worth of their’ claims data.
“I didn’t really understand it until I saw my parents’ information in the app,” Mostashari said. "It is so gratifying how far we’ve come, how bright the future is, and how critical it is... to be able to put information at the fingertips of patients and caregivers, to be able to help them even when you are hundreds of miles away."