Health Tech Hatch to expand Blue Button

'Patients can iteratively interact with the developers in a codesign process, and vote'
By Mike Miliard
11:09 AM

Health Tech Hatch announced Thursday that it will operate as the user testing platform for ONC's Blue Button Patient Co-Design Challenge, designed to spur a growth in opportunities for health data to be put to use.

Launched by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the challenge seeks to amplify the voices of patients with stories to tell and problems to solve through improved access to their health data, officials say, seeking to engage the patient community by crowdsourcing application ideas and incorporating patients in product design.

"Instead of predefining what the problems are we want developers to tackle, we're going to let the world decide what the priorities should be for the challenge," said Farzad Mostashari, MD, ONC, at the Health Datapalooza on Tuesday. "Once those ideas are clarified, there's going to be an opportunity for the developers to co-design, to get rapid feedback from actual patients and actual users on the Health Tech Hatch website."

Blue Button Plus represents the technical standards and policy levers that help patients make use of their clinical and financial data in technology such as personal health records and health apps. All patients whose providers use meaningful use Stage 2 certified technology have the ability to view, download, and securely transmit their clinical data from their provider’s EHR into another product or holding place of their choice.

Seeking to increase the number of priority patient-facing apps able to receive clinical data via Blue Button Plus, the new challenge allows site visitors to vote for the highest priority problems and types of products they think will help them best take care of themselves and their families. The top three ideas/problems will become the target products for this challenge.

"Supporting innovations that will actually be used by people to improve health is a shared mission among Hatch and HHS/ONC, and is the inspiration behind Hatch's testing platform,” says Patricia Salber, CEO of Health Tech Hatch, in a press statement. “What is so great about this project is the way real patient engagement is built in, starting with crowdsourcing the ideas for the Challenge to having the developers post their concepts on Health Tech Hatch so that patients can iteratively interact with the developers in a codesign process, and vote."

Over the summer, developers from across the country will build patient-prioritized tools using the Blue Button Plus technical guidelines, which ensure that patients may move their own health data from a provider’s electronic health record or a patient’s own personal health record into these new products in a secure and structured way, officials say. Developers will receive codesign support from real patients through the Health Tech Hatch platform, and testers will be compensated for their time.

In August, participants will vote again for the winner. Prizes will also be awarded for the best open source developer tools that make it easier for future applications to become Blue Button Plus enabled. Total prize money is $50,000.

“We want the Blue Button Co-Design Challenge to be a significant step forward in the creation and adoption of Blue Button Plus-enabled tools and applications, said Adam Wong, management and program analyst, ONC. “Utilizing the knowledge and experience we've gained over the past two years from the many challenges we've run, we expect this challenge to result in a slew of new patient applications and developer tools that will bring Blue Button to a wide range of new users."

Crowdsourcing and crowdvoting of ideas will take place through June 11 at If you are interested in applying to be a tester, send an email to

Associate Editor Erin McCann contributed to this story.