Come this fall, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plan to add a "Blue Button" to their electronic patient portals that will allow individuals to download their personal health information into a patient health record or other electronic media of their choosing.
This even got the attention of President Obama who announced to America's veterans that "For the first time ever, veterans will be able to go to the VA Web site, click a simple blue button, and download or print your personal health records so you have them when you need them, and can share them with your doctors outside of the VA."
Since this announcement, CMS and VA have announced the format of the data that will be downloaded and there has been much discussion surrounding the structure of these data and the challenges inherent to maintaining the integrity of data when accepted in various formats. Dossia has been asked a number of times about our readiness to take-on the data that lie on the other side of the blue button, so we figured we’d take the opportunity to address the issue on our blog.
Dossia has always been dedicated to the open exchange of personal health information. This is not just a question of the standards for data exchange, but also what the internal database of Dossia can store; the data schemas. There is no value in accepting data if there is no way to logically store it and make it available to Dossia participants.
To accomplish this goal, we have consolidated the most popular industry standards into a comprehensive and flexible set of data schemas. Our data elements primarily focus on the most common data types available across the healthcare landscape but, not only are our schemas consistent with the current industry standards, they also have been validated against actual data from health plans, providers, PBMs, human resource systems, and retail sources; including data from CMS and the VA.
Dossia's ability to integrate with a large variety of healthcare industry standards and data types is essential to its success. Thus the core of Dossia's data schema is built in accord with the systems that provide a majority of healthcare services. Over two years ago, Dossia's engineers used the VA's monographs from VistA as one of the initial sources for validating the data elements included in the Dossia base schema. In addition to mapping the core elements of VistA to the Dossia Schema, Dossia also demonstrated that appropriate components of CMS's Health Care Information System (HCIS) data files and the Shared System Integrated Repository (SSIDR) data set map directly to populate an individual's Dossia Personal Health Record. Specific analysis was derived from Medicare Part A (Inpatient, Skilled Nursing Facility, Home Health Agency, and Hospice), and Medicare Part B (Outpatient) For this reason, it is no surprise that Dossia would be compatible with the final ‘Blue Button’ data elements.
We welcome your suggestions and comments, as we believe that the best way to gain and grow our schema and vocabularies is through the input of others. Please post on the XML Schema discussion group at the Dossia Development Community.