Health Information and the Blue Button
Well we’ve got Big Blue and the dreaded Blue Screen of Death so I guess it was just a matter of time until we got a Blue Button. Well, what is this Blue Button everybody is crowing about and why should you care? You know you’ve arrived when you have your own URL BlueButtonData.org and Twitter hash tag #bluebutton. It must mean something?
OK, here are the details. The Blue Button Initiative was kicked off by CMS and the Department of Veterans Affairs in an effort to accelerate patient access to their health records. In August 2010 President Obama announced the functionality that allowed Veterans to download their health information from their MyHealthVet account. Some people thought that might be a good idea for the rest of us and now every Tom, Dick, and Harry is jumping on the bandwagon. With Blue Button you can download, view, and share your information as you see fit by clicking a blue button. Print it out, email it, put it on a thumb drive, take it on ride to the beach. Do anything you want with it. EHR vendors, third party payers, corporations, state governments, and lemonade stands are rolling out Blue Button capability. It is almost too simple. I push a button and out comes a summary of the important data elements in my health record in a text file or enhanced PDF. I love it. There is no business model, just good functionality. Simple, easy to explain, and what you see is what you get. What’s not to love? Now if I can only find my Blue Button.
Jim Tate is a nationally recognized expert on the CMS EHR Incentive Program, certified technology and meaningful use and author of The Incentive Roadmap® The Meaningful Use of Certified Technology: Stage 1.