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U.S. report

VA and CMS to launch personal health records

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Veterans Affairs Department and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have announced projects that could lead to the creation of personal health records for almost a third of the U.S. population.

On Aug. 29, the VA posted on the MyHealtheVet website a feature that allows veterans to download personal information such as blood pressure, weight, heart rate, emergency contact information, lab results, and family and military medical histories to a personal health record.

A personal health record is a chart controlled by an individual patient in a digital file, while an electronic health record is maintained and managed by a doctor or clinician. In Canada, Telus has recently launched a personal health record; other private companies also offer them, while some hospitals are making them available to patients.

VA labeled the ability to download the medical data the Blue Button feature. CMS also plans to post a similar button that would allow Medicare and Medicaid patients to download personal medical information.

According to officials, the VA cares for more than 6 million patients a year, while Medicare covers about 44 million people and Medicaid about 40 million.

That’s a total of 90 million patients who theoretically could create personal health records, or about 30 percent of the 310 million people in the United States.

Veterans will be able to test the personal health record feature during September and the MyHealtheVet and CMS websites will go live in October with personal health records in conjunction with the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.

Posted September 9, 2010