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Shedding light on patient engagement

Data transparency and patient engagement are the name of the game for a workgroup preparing its latest round of recommendations for the federal Health IT Policy Committee.

Deliberating the testimony it heard in a previous IT safety hearing, the policy committee’s certification/adoption workgroup fleshed out four meaningful use recommendations it will present to the full committee during its regular meeting March 17. Among the pending suggestions is a broader notion of patient engagement.

Currently, according to the proposed criteria for meaningful use, providers have to give patients electronic access to their data in a timely manner. The workgroup is expected to recommend that a component be added that makes it easier for patients to give feedback to providers if they find mistakes in that data. “It has to be very simple to take action,” said Steve Downs, assistant vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Group and member of the certification/adoption workgroup.

Much as greater transparency in the credit card industry led to reform, a similar approach in health care would benefit both providers and patients, according to Paul Egerman, CEO and chairman of eScription Inc., and co-chairman of the workgroup. Once people had access to line items in their credit card bills, billing processes improved, he said: “The credit card industry cleaned up its act quickly.”

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