Humetrix aims to bring iBlueButton to the UK

By Neil Versel
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Humetrix iBlueButton app won the ONC's Blue Button Mashup Challenge.

Humetrix iBlueButton app won the ONC's Blue Button Mashup Challenge.

Humetrix, the Del Mar, Calif.-based maker of mobile health information exchange app iBlueButton, is demonstrating its technology for the UK's National Health Service (NHS) this week.

Like so many healthcare entities around the world, the NHS has been struggling to make electronic health records available and accessible to patients. The NHS has a statutory deadline of 2015 to provide patients with control of their own records.

Humetrix is joining with EHR vendors Cerner and TPP to demonstrate data exchange via the iBlueButton mobile platform Thursday in London at the NHS Healthcare Innovation Expo 2013. Cerner provides inpatient EHRs for 22 NHS trusts – essentially regional integrated delivery networks – while TPP's SystmOne is the EHR for ambulatory care in those trusts.

In the U.S., iBlueButton transforms what Humetrix President and CEO Dr. Bettina Experton has called an "ugly text file," output from Medicare records the part of the federal government's Blue Button initiative, into structured, machine-readable data. The task is somewhat different in the UK, and, in some ways, simpler.

There, inpatient discharge summaries and summary records from general practitioners come out as structured XML data. Experton said both Cerner and TPP have given Humetrix an application programming interface (API) to extract data from EHRs.

"This is much easier when the data is machine-readable and when you have an API," Experton said by phone from London late Wednesday.

However, Experton also explained to MobiHealthNews that the NHS does not have a single point of connection like Blue Button or even a centralized repository of claims like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does in the U.S. "This is a concept that has not been welcome in the U.K.," she said.

For the demo, Humetrix will be pulling XML summary records from Cerner Millennium and TPP SystmOne, then displaying the records as PDF documents through the consumer iBlueButton Android app. "Patients" will then transfer their records to a practitioner's iPad running the professional version of iBlueButton, according to Experton.

"The NHS is very interested in really engaging the patient in a meaningful way," Experton said. However, she was not sure if the NHS has decided to deploy iBlueButton on a wide scale when the U.K. version of the platform is ready for market by the fall. TPP maintains records on 26 million British patients, or about half the total population of England.

Last week at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in New Orleans, Experton described iBlueButton as a "mobile exchange platform" and noted that

Humetrix is positioning its award-winning iBlueButton app as a conduit for health information exchange, a central part of "meaningful use" in the U.S.

"We really see this as a vision for the future," Dr. Christopher Burrow, executive vice president for medical affairs, said of mobile data exchange during an interview at HIMSS.

In December 2011, Humetrix won an Investing in Innovation award in the U.S. from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's (ONC) Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home Challenge.