From late April 2023, a facility has been available in Catalonia on La Meva Salut (MyHealth) health app which enables Catalan citizens to get access to their own medical history via their Patient Summary.
This new digital solution facilitates access to the healthcare system, empowers users, and enables people both to get access to their own health data and improve their clinical safety.
The Blue Button
The Catalan public health system is one of the first in the European Union (EU) to create a tool that places in users’ hands the option to use their own health data, and share the data in total security either with other health systems or in areas such as research.
The Blue Button initiative was born in the United States of America (USA) in 2010 as a digital solution. It was chiefly available to American military veterans, via Veterans Affairs, to access and handle their own medical records.
In the original Blue Button’s own words: “The Blue Button represents a national movement that enables consumers to have easy access to their own health information in a format that they can use. The Blue Button logo signifies that a consumer can download a single electronic file that contains their available health data.”
Now the Catalan health system is incorporating this functionality into La Meva Salut (My Health) health app. It follows standards set up by the EU (known as the EU Patient Summary) in line with implementation guides certified by Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), a non-profit organisation based in the USA.
Health data is collected, and coded, as a patient summary, according to the set-up established for European health systems. It guarantees access to health information, with digital portability and interoperability between health systems: diagnoses, treatment, vaccines, test results, and allergies. In Catalonia, medical discharge information can also be downloaded. In future, the available information will be expanded.
People who want to have access to their own data can download their documents in XML format from the “Personal data” section of La Meva Salut, Catalonia’s health app for patients/citizens. Information is currently available in Spanish and Catalan.
An early version of the initiative was presented at EHTEL’s 2022 Symposium by Joan Guanyabens, who has since become Catalonia’s TIC Salut Social Director.
The European Patient Summary
From April 2023, the countries that can get access to health data from patients from Spain include Croatia, France, Luxembourg, Malta, and Portugal. A total of five Spanish autonomous regions can also use this cross-border service.
On 12 April 2023, an update (version 3.2) of the guidelines for the EU Patient Summary was also published with relevance, among other items, to rare conditions.
The Patient Summary contains a patient’s main clinical data. It was developed as a result of the work of undertaken in the framework of the 2011 Directive 2011/24/EU on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. For over a decade, this directive has led to promotion of the cooperation and exchange of healthcare information among European Member States.
Now, a person who requests/needs unscheduled medical assistance outside his/her own country of origin simply has to authorise a health professional to gain access to it at the time that assistance is needed (he or she does not have to do anything special beforehand). The service offers help in three main ways: it will indicate treatment that is the most appropriate, avoid risks in the event of the person having an allergy, and overcome any language barriers. This initiative is to be rolled out progressively in more than 20 other countries in the EU.
For more information on Europe’s electronic cross-border health services, go to this website.