Contest Targets Consumer Interest In Electronic Health Records - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Patient Tools
10:08 AM

Contest Targets Consumer Interest In Electronic Health Records

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information promotes new contests aimed at encouraging patients to access their data and bolstering patient safety.

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The U.S. government's Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) continues to dangle prize money as an incentive for software developers to create advances in health IT.

This week, ONC introduced the "What's in Your Health Record?" video challenge, offering $7,200 in prize money--$3,000 for first place--for short videos explaining how patients can access and verify the information in their own health records.

"Patients and their families have a legal right to see and get a copy of their health record from most doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, such as pharmacies and nursing homes, as well as from their health plans. Patients can use that information to better understand their health, to coordinate their care with other health care providers, or to help identify possible errors or omissions in their medical records," an ONC website explains.

[Wearable devices equipped with sensors and Web connections help consumers track health and fitness. See 10 Wearable Devices To Keep Patients Healthy]

In fact, patients have had a legal right to see their own records since the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996 and the HIPAA privacy regulations took effect in 2002, but care providers have been slow to comply. Several agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), notably the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), have tried some outreach, but that information has been hard to find.

Videos, which are due Aug. 23, "should share a personal story or experience illustrating how having access to your health record and looking it over helped improve care," according to ONC.

Recently ONC has also been promoting another challenge, first announced in May but running through Aug. 31, that offers $70,000 in prize money to develop a platform that makes it easier for people to file an electronic report about a patient safety event.

The idea is to increase the rate of reporting and the quality of information reported, while also reducing the number of adverse medical events. Wil Yu, special assistant for innovations in the ONC Office of the Chief Scientist, said that the office is looking for innovations that will make "reporting pathways more palatable and more meaningful" in an industry long subsumed by a culture of silence.

Yu said that he would like to see software that can import data from electronic health records and other health IT systems to help healthcare organizations report incidents in common formats. "The real goal of this challenge is to improve our understanding of patient safety," Yu told InformationWeek Healthcare. "Issues surrounding patient safety reporting are very layered. They're very complicated," Yu said. "If an incident occurs, how do we capture that properly?"

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M2SYS Technology
M2SYS Technology,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/13/2012 | 4:45:22 PM
re: Contest Targets Consumer Interest In Electronic Health Records
This is a very interesting contest Neil, thanks for making the community aware of it. It seems like the more effort that is put into raising awareness of a patient's responsibility in the patient care process, the greater the chances that patients will actually become involved in researching, monitoring, and proactively helping themselves. Certainly the move towards electronic health records has thrust patient safety and patient care into the spotlight but often it's forgotten that we as patients have a responsibility in this process as well. The healthcare industry can't do it all on their own, it takes marked cooperation between both provider and patient to make the system work efficiently and properly.
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