The Blue Button Initiative
The Blue Button Initiative is a national program that allows patients to view and down load personal health information. The program includes pledges of support from many stakeholders to make it easier for individuals and their caregivers to have secure, timely, and electronic access to their health information.
Healthcare organizations like providers, hospitals, payers, and retail pharmacies, who manage or maintain individual health data, pledge to provide a secure portal from which an individual can download personal health information. Participants of the Blue Button will have a literal “button” appearing on their websites. Individuals will have more control over their personal health information, being able to create medical histories which can be shared with all of their healthcare providers.
Organizations who are non-data holders pledge to educate about the importance of getting access to and using their health information or to develop tools that enable consumers to make use of their electronic health.
What started as an initiative by the Veterans Administration has now expanded and is being lead by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).
Since the release of the Blue Button, ONC has been working toward:
- Ensuring access for every American to their digital health information
- Helping application developers use the data to build products and services that help individuals with their health
According to ONC, having secure, electronic access to view and download your health records online means you can:
- Share your information with people you trust, like your family doctor, specialists, and caregivers
- Check your information to make sure it is correct and complete
- Keep track of important health information like medications, vaccination records and test results
- Have your medical history available if you are changing doctors or visiting a specialist
- Find specific information about your health and healthcare when you need it, like in an emergency situation or when you are traveling out of town away from your usual healthcare providers
You can also plug your health information into mobile apps and other health tools. This can help you to stay in control of your health and your family’s health. It’s your health record and it’s about you so you should have it readily accessible when you need it.
You have a legal right to receive your personal health information. Although Blue Button is in its early stages, it is expanding rapidly. Ask your health care providers or health insurance company if they offer you the ability to view online, download, and share your health records via Blue Button and look for the Blue Button logo.
AHIMA Awareness Campaign
AHIMA has joined many diverse stakeholder groups to support the Blue Button initiative and we have taken the Blue Button Pledge with the Office of the National Coordinator for health information technology. We invite and encourage AHIMA members to become AHIMA Blue Button pledge supporters and also help spread the word to their employers, family, friends, providers and fellow HIM professionals. We are also asking each of our component state associations to become Blue Button pledge supporters by visiting www.healthit.gov/bluebutton and adding your CSA’s name to the growing list of supporters.
For Medicare and Veterans:
Medicare beneficiaries can download their Blue Button data at Medicare.gov. After you have saved it, you can import that same file into other computer-based personal health management tools. Veterans can access the VA Blue Button via the My HealtheVet website at http://www.myhealth.va.gov/
My HealtheVet is VA's Personal Health Record portal which enables Veterans to manage their personal health information and provides authenticated Veterans with access to selected data from VA's Electronic Health Record system, VistaA. My HealtheVet also provides online Prescription Refill requests and Secure Messaging with a growing number of VA health care teams. The VA Blue Button provides a simple, secure, and convenient way for Veterans to access and download their available personal health information.
With the VA Blue Button, Veterans can download and save or share a single file that contains all of the personal health information they've self-entered including:
- Demographic Information
- Emergency Contact information
- Health Care Providers
- Health Insurance
- Treatment Facilities
- Medical conditions and personal medical history
- Medications, herbals, and supplements
- Allergies and adverse reactions
- Lab and test results
- Vitals and Readings
- Family Health History (Self and Relatives)
- Military health history
- Health data such as blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, etc.
- Any other health-related information the Veteran feels a doctor or hospital might need to know
Veterans who are receiving medications from VA can download their VA medication history.
VA patients who have enrolled in the enhanced (In Person Authenticated) version of My HealtheVet can also download data from their VistA Electronic Health Record including:
- VA Wellness Reminders
- VA Appointments
- VA Allergies
- VA Chemistry and Hematology Lab Results
Veterans can customize their download by selecting the types of information to include and/or the date rang, and by choosing the format of the file (plain or Adobe PDF)
VA continues to incrementally make more data downloadable using the VA Blue Button. Already in 2013, the VA Blue Button has expanded significantly with the addition of Self-Reported data and additional data from the VA Electronic Health Record.
Additional VA Resources:
Blue Button Health Assistant
Blue Button Health Assistant helps you securely download and interact with your personal health information online. Designed with Adobe Air technology, Health Assistant was the winner of the Blue Button Developers’ Challenge Award. Watch a 13-minute demonstration of the tool.
Blue Button FAQ
View Frequently Asked Questions about the Blue Button, or visit the CMS Blue Button website for more information.