Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a new Trump administration initiative—MyHealthEData—to empower patients by giving them control of their healthcare data, and allowing it to follow them through their healthcare journey.

Last year President Trump issued an executive order to promote healthcare choice and competition across the United States. In response, the administration seeks to move toward a system in which patients have control of their data and can take it with them from doctor to doctor, or to their other healthcare providers.

The governmentwide MyHealthEData initiative is led by the White House Office of American Innovation, with participation from the Department of Health and Human Services—through CMS, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), and the National Institutes of Health—as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs. The initiative is designed to empower patients around a common aim: giving every American control of their medical data.

MyHealthEData is designed to break down the barriers that prevent patients from having electronic access and control of their own health records from the device or application of their choice. Patients will be able to choose the provider that best meets their needs, and to give that provider secure access to their data.

The MyHealthEData initiative supports the ideas that patients deserve to receive an electronic copy of their entire health record, and should be able to share their data with whomever they want. Patients can use their information to seek out providers and services that meet their unique healthcare needs, gain a better understanding of their overall health, prevent disease, and make more informed decisions about their care.

In an address at the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Verma also announced the launch of Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0, a way for Medicare beneficiaries to access and share their personal health data in a universal digital format. This enables patients who participate in the traditional Medicare program to connect their claims data to secure applications, providers, services, and research programs.

For example, Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0 will enable a patient to access and share their healthcare information, previous prescriptions, treatments, and procedures with a new doctor, which can lead to less duplication in testing and provide continuity of care. Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0 is expected to foster increased competition among technology innovators to serve Medicare patients and their caregivers, finding better ways to use claims data to serve patients’ health needs.

In her remarks, Verma specifically called on healthcare insurers to follow CMS’s lead and give patients access to their claims data in a digital format.

“CMS serves more than 130 million beneficiaries through our programs, which means we are uniquely positioned to transform how important healthcare data is shared between patients and their doctors,” says Verma. “Today, we are calling on private health plans to join us in sharing their data with patients, because enabling patients to control their Medicare data so that they can quickly obtain and share it is critical to creating more patient empowerment.”

Additionally, CMS intends to overhaul its electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs to refocus the programs on interoperability, and to reduce the time and cost required of providers to comply with the programs’ requirements. CMS will continue to collaborate with ONC to improve clinician experience with EHRs.

Verma says CMS has implemented laws regarding information blocking—a practice in which providers prevent patients from getting their data. Under some CMS programs, hospitals and clinicians must now show they have not engaged in information blocking activities.