Health insurance carriers that provide coverage for federal employees must soon begin offering their members additional downloading and data-sharing capabilities.
Health records access expanded for federal employees
The more than 200 plans that participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program are now required to add "Blue Button" functionality to their online personal health records, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced in a Dec. 19 letter to carriers (PDF). Developed by the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department, Blue Button allows users to download PHR data in plain-text format and facilitates data transfer, according to an Office of Personnel Management news release.
"All health plans already have claims and personal health information in their databases, and virtually all FEHBP health plans currently offer a personal health record to their members," said John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, in the release. "Adding Blue Button will make these records more readable, more accessible and more useful to patients and families. This easy access to lab results, medication and problem lists, allergies, appointment data and wellness reminders makes care both easier and better."
Roughly 500,000 individuals, including veterans and CMS beneficiaries, are already using Blue Button, according to the release. Insurance carriers that haven't already incorporated Blue Button into their PHRs "must notify OPM of their plans to add it to their personal health records by March 15, 2012," according to the release.
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