ONC Aims To Automate Patient Use of 'Blue Button' Application

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT wants to make it easier for all U.S. residents to use a "Blue Button" feature to download their electronic health record data, Government Health IT reports (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 8/10).

Background on the Blue Button Tool

In 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched a Blue Button tool to help veterans access and exchange their personal health data in a standard, consistent manner. The project since has caught on in the private sector.

In March, UnitedHealthcare launched a Blue Button tool for 500,000 people enrolled in policies with Health Plan of Nevada, a UnitedHealthcare company (iHealthBeat, 7/5). Aetna also has created a Blue Button tool for its members, according to Doug Fridsma, director of ONC's Office of Standards and Interoperability.

Details of the New Project

In a "Health IT Buzz" blog post last week, Fridsma and Lygeia Ricciardi -- acting director of ONC's Office of Consumer eHealth -- described ONC's new Automate Blue Button project.

They wrote that the project aims to automate the transmission of personal health data from health care providers to patients':

  • Personal computers;
  • Email accounts;
  • Health-related applications;
  • Personal health records; or
  • Other preferred data storage location.

On Aug. 15, ONC will hold a webinar inviting stakeholders to participate in a wiki community to develop the standards and technical specifications for the project.

Fridsma wrote that the initiative "needs experts to develop standards and pilot the technology, innovators to push the envelope, and patients and providers to test that it works."

According to Ricciardi, the project "will ensure that consumers have the most current, up-to-date information about their health at their fingertips whenever they need it" (Government Health IT, 8/10).

Paula Blasi
Thanks for pointing out that the iHealthBeat article did not mention Aetna's Blue Button project. The article has been updated to include this information. -- The Editors
Brian Ahier
You mention that UnitedHealthcare launched their Blue Button tool in March 2012, but neglected to report that Aetna launched their tool in September 2011.

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