RelayHealth’s PHR wins Blue Button contest

By Molly Merrill
11:39 AM

RelayHealth, McKesson's connectivity business, has been awarded a $50,000 prize as the winner of the VA's "Blue Button for All Americans" personal health record contest.

RelayHealth, an Atlanta-based provider of information exchange services, said that in order to win the prize, the company had to show that it had upgraded its PHR to use Blue Button technology, and at least 25,000 of its physicians offered the new Blue Button functions to their patients.

"RelayHealth has always offered one-click download of the continuity of care document (CCD) and is proud to support the Blue Button initiative," said Jim Bodenbender, president, RelayHealth Connectivity Solutions. "By allowing patients – including veterans and active-duty service members – to easily access their healthcare information, the initiative will increase patients' ability to actively engage in managing their own healthcare."

RelayHealth officials said they will donate the prize money to the Wounded Warrior Project, which supports programs that assist injured service members, veterans and their families.

The Blue Button concept was developed by VA in collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Markle Foundation. VA was the first health system to offer Blue Button functions to its patients in August 2010; since then, hundreds of thousands of Veterans have downloaded their data from VA's MyHealtheVet website.

"The Blue Button initiative, a flagship open government initiative of the VA with active multi-agency collaboration, has scaled from a promising 'startup' to a national service," said White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. "By tapping into our country's entrepreneurial spirit through challenges and prizes, we celebrate the engagement of the private sector to ensure Blue Button is available to – and will be used – by millions of Americans."

Blue Button personal health records allow patients to see, download and keep their health data by clicking the "Blue Button" on a secure Internet site. Patients can then choose to share their data with their physicians or family members or make it available if emergency treatment is needed. Blue Button downloads are delivered in text files that can be downloaded, read, stored and printed on any computer without special software. Patients can also authorize use of a Blue Button transfer of their medical data from a treating physician to another medical provider.

VA's Innovations Initiative (VAi2) sponsored the contest.

"We know from our own experience that the six million veterans who receive their care through VA want to have access to their health data using the Blue Button," said VAi2 Director Jonah Czerwinski. "We thought it important that the more than 17 million veterans across the country who get their care from non-VA providers have access to Blue Button downloads through their private physicians as well."

"We held this contest to help Veterans across America to be able to download their health data regardless of where they get their care," added Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "We wanted to give veterans and their families easy access to their health data with the Blue Button so they can have greater control over the health care they receive. RelayHealth's contribution to this goal is more than commendable."

A recent study by New York-based Manhattan Research found that 56 million Americans have accessed their health information on electronic systems maintained by their physicians – and 41 million more are interested in doing so.

"This contest proves that patient-controlled PHRs using the Blue Button can be simple, secure and inexpensive," said Peter L. Levin, VA's chief technology officer. "It also proves that through collaborations like this, the government and private-sector organizations like RelayHealth can make healthcare information exchanges part of the mainstream of American medicine."