Launching this fall: the National Blue Button Consumer Campaign

At the recent Health Datapalooza Conference held here in Washington DC, ONC announced the next step for a national Blue Button Campaign in coordination with supporters of the Blue Button Initiative. The Blue Button Initiative is a public-private partnership that seeks to give consumers easy and secure access to their health records from a variety of sources in a format they can use. 

The Blue Button Initiative supports ONC’s primary strategic focus to increase the interoperability of health information.  With electronic access to our own health data, we can facilitate the flow of information among trusted members of our care teams.

Supporters of the Blue Button Initiative include provider organizations, health plans, pharmacies, labs, technology developers and patient and consumer advocacy organizations, all committed to the Blue Button cause.

Why are we doing a consumer outreach campaign?

The Blue Button Campaign aims to raise awareness among consumers and patients about Blue Button and how they can use it to exercise their rights and empower themselves with their own health data. Over a year ago, members of the Blue Button Initiative told us that a lack of public demand for digital health records is among the greatest impediments to greater consumer engagement in their own health and care. This lack of demand is often due to consumers not being aware of the legal right to access their own health information and not knowing the benefits of doing so. These benefits include checking the health information for errors, sharing it with other members of their care team or others they trust, and referencing that information whenever necessary.

By using a consistent set of messages and the common Blue Button symbol, we are magnifying the impact of any single smaller campaign and encouraging a culture change in which members of the public learn what to expect and look for to access their own health data.

So who has joined forces with the campaign and what are they doing?

Public Service Announcements

A number of organizations have agreed to prominently feature the Blue Button public service announcements (PSAs) on their websites or through their other communication channels. The focus-group tested PSAs target three populations (seniors or those with chronic conditions, caregivers, and cancer patients/survivors) to elevate patient and caregiver awareness of Blue Button.  The campaign will run from September 15th – October 6th. Some of the partners include: 

2.      Spreading the Word in Innovative Ways

     I.          Everyday Health External Links Disclaimer (serves 43 million consumers and one-third of all US physicians)

  • Create and profile 5 stories from patients, consumers, and caregivers whose lives have been impacted by Blue Button.

     II.          Sharecare :

  • Hosted a nationwide  Twitter chat External Links Disclaimer on Blue Button promoted  by Dr. Oz on June 5th
  • Produce two videos on Blue Button for its “Health Makers Video Series,” which reaches two-thirds of Americans. 

     III.          National Partnership for Women & Families

  • President Debra Ness sent a note to constituents  External Links Disclaimerabout the Blue Button and Blue Button slogan
  • More than 4000 votes were cast from that correspondence

3. Blue Button Access & Technical Announcements

In support of the campaign:

  • CMS will hire an HHS innovation fellow to implement the next phase of its Blue Button function for Medicare beneficiaries so information can be plugged into more useful third party apps and tools. If you are interested in the fellowship, you can apply until July 16, 2014,
  • IHS will launch its new personal health record portal in summer 2014,
  • DoD  set a target goal to increase the usage of its Blue Button by 25 percent among service members and their families,
  • Walgreens will implement the Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (CCDA) format, the content standard recommended by the Blue Button Initiative, this fall, building on its existing service, and
  • AMIDA will launch a Blue Button-branded Data Reconciliation Engine (DRE), a software program that reconciles sources of health data to reduce concerns over data provenance.

Is there still time to join the Blue Button Consumer Campaign?

Absolutely! We anticipate more announcements and partners joining the campaign. We encourage others to join us over the course of the next few months, leading up to the campaign’s full launch on September 15th. This is an important time as meaningful use requirements for eligible providers and hospitals to give patients the ability to view, download and transmit their health information go into effect.

If you would like to get involved, please email us at

We are excited to highlight meaningful opportunities for consumers to partner in their own health care, and how innovators, providers and others are using health IT tools to enable and support patient care with the right data available to the right people at the right time.

One Comment

  1. Sarah Canzoneri says:

    I’m writing to tell you that I already hate patient portals with a passion. I am a pretty tech savvy, intelligent, educated patient As of now, I have months of experience with the patient portal (better characterized as a moat with drawn bridge) used by the George Washington Med Faculty Associates, and the system used by Johns Hopkins.

    They are both terrible. As a patient, I find them difficult to access; the information is incomplete & inaccurate; and difficult to correct. As far as I can determine, all these systems do is to force me to read e mails that tell me to go to the patient portal to find out things someone should just phone or write me about — like appointment reminders.

    The US has a terrible shortage of primary care doctors, so that even when a person has good health insurance (as I do), health care is pretty much a DIY business. If I think I might need health care, I look on Google, then make an appointment with a specialist or not depending on what I learn. I end up with medical records in a number of offices. The only person who can keep my records in one place is me — in a paper file folder in my desk.

    You should stop trying to “educate” consumers to use electronic medical records that are not — and will not become — centralized, and adopting regs that force healthcare providers to force patients to use crappy ‘portals’. Instead, you should put time and effort into developing realistic ways for each patient to keep his/her own records together in a form that the patient can present to the various medical care providers s/he consults. Some sort of app/set of files/device/whatever makes more sense that trying to impose centralized record keeping on a medical care system that is thoroughly de-centralized.

    I realize that it is not your fault that the US has the most f—-ed up medical care system in the developed world. I realize that you cannot fix our severe shortage of primary care doctors. However, I do think that you can carefully examine whether the drive for patient portals and electronic medical records — which seem at first glance like a great idea — isn’t actually building another barrier between patients and doctors, and in fact making it more difficult for patients to navigate our messy care system.

    In my experience, the patient portals are helping keep costs down by discouraging me from visiting my doctors. But I don’t think that discouraging patients from consulting doctors is what you are trying to do.

Leave a ReplyComment Policy