Families In Washington to Protect Themselves From Measles Outbreak

By Ed Simcox, HHS Chief Technology Officer
Twitter: @HHSIDEALab

The 21st Century Cures Act emphasizes that citizens need access to their healthcare data to empower them to make better decisions about their health and healthcare. The proposed rules recently published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) lay out clear steps to realize this.

The recent measles outbreak in the state of Washington reminds us of the importance of empowering citizens with enhanced access to their healthcare data. On January 18th, 2019 Washington declared a local public health emergency identifying a measles outbreak in Clark County. As of Feb 26, there have been 65 confirmed cases of measles in Clark County and one confirmed case in King county. On January 25th, the Washington governor declared a statewide public health emergency. The best protection against measles is the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella viruses.

Patients and caregivers should be able to have peace of mind by easily checking their families’ health records to ensure that critical vaccines have been administered.

The Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), in partnership with the private sector, supports and promotes MyIR (My Immunization Record) which allows people to instantly access, download, and print their immunization records from home, thereby empowering rapid, informed decision making for families.

In Washington alone, there was a 476% increase in new users accessing their immunization records through MyIR in January 2019, compared to December 2018. Enabling consumers to securely access their immunization records through MyIR allows citizens to make informed healthcare decisions more rapidly and reduces the burden on State Health Department staff members and physician’s offices responding to records requests, especially during periods of heightened need to check their vaccination status.

Here at the HHS Office of the CTO we are committed to empowering consumers with the health information and records they need to make informed decisions and stay healthy. It is critical that we meet patients where they are in this process. MyIR is one example of how the HHS Office of the CTO is working to improve health IT by streamlining processes for providers, making health records more accessible for patients and most importantly improving patient health outcomes.

Washington residents can visit MyIR.net to register for MyIR and ensure that they are protected against vaccine preventable diseases.

This article was originally published on HHS Office of the Chief Technology Officer blog and is republished here with permission.