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Consumer eHealth

Consumer eHealth Program


The Consumer eHealth Program supports efforts by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to fulfill one of its core strategies: the empowerment of individuals to improve their health and health care through Health IT. The collective aims of this eHealth program are best summarized by the objectives known within ONC as the "Three A's": Access, Action, and Attitudes.

Objective Why?
Access Increase ACCESS to health information: consumers and patients are active participants in the secure, easy, and electronic flow of information pertinent to their health and health care. Under existing law, you already have a legal right [PDF - 77 KB] to see and get a copy of your health information from doctors, hospitals and other health care providers such as pharmacies and nursing homes, as well as from your health plan. As health care providers switch from paper to electronic records, ONC is working to ensure that consumers and patients have access to this information electronically, and in ways compatible with emerging consumer health technologies.
Action Enable consumers to take ACTION based on their health information by encouraging the development of tools and services that help make electronic health information useful and meaningful for them. With recent technological and legal changes, many consumers have greater access than ever before to electronic health information. By itself, this access may provide benefits for consumers and patients who want to take greater control over their personal health. But in combination with new tools and services, this access opens the doors to numerous opportunities to understand and use information to help all of us make better choices to maintain and improve health.
Attitudes Shift ATTITUDES: Consumers think and act as partners in their care with the support of e-health tools. Sometimes patients and caregivers encounter barriers when trying to take a more active role in their care. Doctors may be unaccustomed to patients who ask a lot of questions, and patients may worry about appearing to be "difficult" or disrespectful. In other cases, consumers may simply lack the information they need to make informed decisions, or not have the tools they need to make sense of the information they do have or to work with their providers to help them make better choices. Creating stronger care partnerships will require a shift in attitudes by both consumers and health care providers.

Selected eHealth Programs

Through its Consumer eHealth Program, ONC participates in numerous initiatives that contribute to meeting these objectives. Below, you'll find a partial list of eHealth programs that support these efforts. Note that many of these also have facets that extend to health care providers and other groups.

ACCESS-Related Programs
Program Description Resources
"Meaningful Use" Incentives The Federal government provides financial incentives to help health care providers offset the initial costs of converting to Electronic Health Records (EHRs). In exchange, those providers must offer "meaningful use" of these EHRs to patients through value-added services like same-day clinical summaries of office visits, and a commitment to provide electronic records within three business days of receiving a request. In the future, meaningful use requirements may extend to programs that allow patients to view and download copies of their health information online. Learn more about Meaningful use at HealthIT.gov.
Blue Button The Blue Button is quickly becoming a common, easy-to-recognize symbol for consumers who wish to access their health information online securely. The Blue Button provides a simple, one-click method for patients and caregivers to download health records or insurance claims information in PDF or text form. The Blue Button originated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and now appears on the patient portals of more than one-third of America's hospitals and nearly one-third of practicing physicians, and nearly one million people have already taken advantage of these programs. Learn more at healthit.gov/bluebutton.
ACTION-Related Programs
Program Description Resources
Innovation Challenges "Innovation Challenges" are public contests for technology developers to create tools related to a particular problem or need. ONC periodically issues innovation challenges to spur innovation related to consumer health information.

Learn more about past and current challenges, including the Surgeon General's Healthy Apps Challenge; the Discharge Follow Up Appointment Challenge ; the EHR Accessibility Challenge , and the Blue Button Mashup Challenge .

Learn about future challenges at challenge.gov.

Txt4Health Nearly 79 million Americans have "pre-diabetes," a condition that - left unaddressed - puts them at higher risk for developing type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. Txt4Health is an interactive, text-messaging based tool that helps users complete an assessment for diabetes risk, and then offers personalized programs of information, goal tracking, and reminders customized to their health status and location. Today, through the ONC Beacon Community program, Txt4Health is available in Crescent City (New Orleans), Southeast Michigan, and Greater Cincinnati.

Learn more about Txt4Health .

Learn more about ONC's Beacon Communities project.

National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) ONC co-chairs the National eHealth Collaborative's (NeHC) Consumer Consortium which is an organization consisting of more than 150 stakeholders from government and industry working to drive innovation and establish best practices for consumer eHealth products. Learn more about NeHC .
ATTITUDES-Related Programs
Program Description Resources
HealthIT.gov Patients and Families Pages In 2011, ONC launched HealthIT.gov to serve as a "one-stop shop" for patients and families to learn about health IT tools and to hear stories about how Health IT and greater engagement has benefitted real patients. The site also offers a toolkit for organizations who want to educate their employees, customers, congregants, members, or other constituents about health IT. In the near future, HealthIT.gov will offer additional resources like educational animations to make information about health IT more accessible and understandable to a wider audience. Learn more by visiting the Patients and Families pages at HealthIT.gov.
Crowdsourced Video Contests Throughout 2012, ONC is running a series of contests encouraging consumers to create videos telling their own stories about how Health IT improved their health and increased involvement in their own care. The year kicked off with the Healthy New Year Challenge, followed by theBeat Down Blood Pressure Challenge. All future video challenges will be posted on Challenge.gov.

See videos from past challenges like the Healthy New Year Challenge and the Beat Down Blood Pressure Challenge.

Learn about future challenges at challenge.gov.

Sharecare ONC recently joined Sharecare as a featured "expert" partner. Sharecare is an interactive health site where people go to find reliable information about health care, and over time, ONC will contribute knowledge and content related to electronic health records, eHealth, and other health IT topics about which patients and their caregivers have questions. Learn more at Sharecare .