Blue Button is a simple concept: give patients’ access to their own data. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) first used the Blue Button logo on its patient portal in 2010 ,By clicking on the button, individuals could download their medical records in digital form.
Since then, millions of Veterans have logged onto the tool to download their personal health information, and many of the country’s largest data holders, including federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) and private health plans such as United HealthCare and Aetna, have embraced Blue Button as a way to make health care data readily available to their beneficiaries.
Recognizing the success and potential of the Blue Button, in 2012, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) within the US Department of Health and Human Services took on the responsibility for taking it nationwide, in collaboration with the VA, the White House, and a host of other public and private sector leaders. Blue Button is an important component of engaging and empowering individuals and their families as partners in their health through information technology.
With this implementation guidance, we are evolving the standards associated with the Blue Button. Data holders (such as providers and payors, and the vendors that serve them) and receivers (such as providers of Personal Health Records (PHRs) and other apps and services) that choose to follow this guidance will be known as providing “Blue Button+” or “Blue Button + Ready” to their users.
Blue Button+ supports the evolution of Blue Button because it sets the stage for an acceleration in the development of a new ecosystem of tools and apps based on a source of data –personal health data – that was until recently difficult to access but is becoming increasingly widely available. This Blue Button + guidance was developed though ONC’s Standards and Interoperability Framework initiative with input from more than 70 volunteer individuals and organizations.
Blue Button + is intended to catalyze the growing movement of consumer and patient engagement in health and health care via information technology or eHealth. We encourage you to join us. For more information and resources related to Blue Button, see http://healthit.gov/bluebutton.
Blue Button+ gives users the ability to get records in a human-readable and machine-readable format; and to send them where they choose. This enables a consumer to do everything from printing a physical copy to sharing it with a third party application.