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You Can Get Your Health Data

Posted Sep 26 2011 12:00am

Here at Health 2.0 there is definitely an air of transformation. Several initiatives that I had been following have come to fruition, or at least to critical mass, among them implementation of and patient communities. MedHelp now has over 12 million visitors a month, while millions of women annually visit the women’s social health site EmpowHER.com

On the electronic medical records side,  physicians have finally begun to implement EMRs in large numbers, because they are now subsidized by ARRA , the stimulus bill (you remember, the one that didn’t work?) to do so. In order to receive $50,000 to deploy an EMR, a physician need only buy one and demonstrate its “meaningful use” in his practice. For this year, to qualify for the Medicaid meaningful use incentive, all you had to do was purchase the software and go live in your practice. In the future, there will be other, more important qualifiers, such as the health outcomes of your patients. But for this year, just buy the product and begin to use it.

As a result, companies like Practice Fusion , which always made its software free, and is a (private) cloud-based platform have begun to grow by leaps and bounds. Founded in 2005, Practice Fusion grew by 400% in 2009 with the passage of ARRA now has 100,000 users and 21,000,000 patient records online. Next year, it is projected to have  100,000,000 records. Its iPhone app will launch soon, and its iPad app is being designed by one of the country’s top designers, who will speak at Practice Fusion’s user conference in November.

As part of an “exclusive” interview  with Practice Fusion’s founder and CEO, , in which we took a pedicab ride around downtown San Francisco, I found out that within the next few years, users of EMRs like Practice Fusion will be able to choose physicians based on whether they have EMRs and allow the patient to have access to his or her data. After five years of waiting for the market to catch up with his innovation, Ryan has found himself sitting pretty, with open data ready for the new wave.

[ Aside: I also found out that in the early days of the company, Ryan actually took an insurance settlement check for an automobile accident and used it to make payroll instead of having his torn rotator cuff fixed. Yes, he's a hard core entrepreneur]

However, if you are a patient of the VA, of Medicare, or of any other insurer that is part of the Blue Button initiative , you can get your data today, by logging into VA.gov or Medicare.gov and registering online. Once you prove your identity, you will be given an opportunity to use the Blue Button  to download your data as a text file, or view it as a .pdf . You can save the data to your hard drive or send it to a PHR, such as Health Vault.

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