Blue Button sees 1 million patients sign on

By Erin McCann
11:08 AM

One million patients are now registered for Blue Button, and are using it to access their personal health records, officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs announced last week.

“Since President Obama announced the availability of Blue Button two years ago, VA has worked tirelessly with our sister agencies to make online access to personal health records convenient, reliable, and safe. I am very pleased with our progress,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

[See also: Mostashari urges Blue Button-big data mashup.]

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The Blue Button Initiative, a joint collaboration by the VA, Department of Defense (DoD), CMS and the Markle Foundation’s Consumer Engagement Workgroup, enables patients to assemble and download personal health information into a single, portable file that can be used inside a growing number of private health care electronic records – as well as those in the VA, DoD, CMS and private sector partners. 

The VA Blue Button PHR includes prescription history, the ability to review past appointments and medical history details, wellness reminders and emergency contact information. Because it is Web-based, the information is available anywhere, any time. Officials say its security measures are identical to those employed by retail websites that accept credit cards.

“VA believes that patients are hungry for their health information,” said Peter Levin, VA’s chief technology officer. “The simplicity of Blue Button makes it easy for other public agencies and Federal Employee Health Program carriers to participate. Getting to one million registered users so quickly is a great validation for our team.”

According to VA officials, the Blue Button will see even wider use as more non-profit organizations and health care industry partners, such as Kaiser Permanente and Aetna adopt it as an integral part of their customer health records. One of the most recent Blue Button partners is UnitedHealth Group.

[See also: UnitedHealthcare launches Blue Button capability.]

“We are just thrilled to see how Blue Button has expanded so quickly, both in the richness of its content as well as the number of institutions that have pledged to make their data available,” said U.S. chief technology officer Todd Park. “Data is the rocket fuel of job creation in the high tech sector. Blue Button is just a terrific example of what people can do once we liberate their data – safely and privately – from our vaults.”

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