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A California-based developer of mobile technology tools and a Virginia-based provider of communications solutions for care providers have been named the winners of two Blue Button app competitions sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.
In announcements made this week at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco and on Twitter (hashtag #health2con), Humetrix, of Del Mar, Calif., won first place and $45,000 in the ONC's Blue Button Mash-Up challenge, and Kinergy Health of Vienna, Va., won the Patient Engagement Blue Button challenge and $25,000. The Advisory Board Company sponsored the competition.
Humetrix developed the iBlueButton, a mobile tool, to automatically access and download Medicare Blue Button text files on to a patient's device. It translates medical codes into English and displays the data in organized tables of problem and medications lists, past medical visits, tests and procedures.
The mobile app also enables patients and their caregivers to query public databases about drug information and side effects and generate warnings when they enter a prescribed medication or side effects. The patient may also securely transmit Blue Button information to a physician with the app's push technology, according to the company description.
Humetrix officials said the app would be available soon on iTunes.
Kinergy Health uses its MyKinergy Web portal to connect family members, doctors and other healthcare providers to care for family members and loved ones. The company was founded in 2009 by Gail Embt, who spent years caring for her mother and used those experiences to develop a platform that would link caregivers and help provide instant information on care conditions and treatment options.
The Patient Engagement Blue Button Challenge was designed to create or identify a consumer application that would enable the greatest number of individuals to make Blue Button data available to hospitals and physicians, according to Aneesh Chopra, former White House chief technology officer, who returned as a senior advisor to the research and consulting company.
"Effective patient engagement is an essential component of any healthcare provider organization's strategy to thrive in the era of value-based purchasing, episode-of-care-based bundled payments, and shared savings programs," he said at the outset of the competition.
The challenges build on the Blue Button feature, developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which enables patients to download their health information in a simple ASCII text format to their computers or personal health records to share with providers, families or caregivers.
To date, more than 1 million veterans, members of the military and seniors on Medicare have downloaded their health information using the Blue Button feature. The Office of Personnel Management has also requested that federal employees' health plans offer Blue Button. A few private healthcare organizations, such as UnitedHealth and Aetna, are beginning to incorporate it.
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