Blue Button Codeathon: Unlocking Data and Empowering Patients

Maya Uppaluru | November 8, 2013

Anyone who has struggled to remember the name of their medication or the date of their child’s vaccination, while juggling multiple doctor appointments for family members, knows firsthand how important it is that patients have access to their health information. We think our Blue Button initiative can help.

We’re working every day at ONC to make sure that all patients can take advantage of their legal right to access their health data.  The goal of the Blue Button initiative is to empower patients to download their health information in both a human and machine-readable format, and support developers with standards and guidance to create patient-facing technology.

Liberating patient data, or making information from data holders such as insurance companies and health care providers easily available to patients, through Blue Button will require strong partnerships between a variety of players: health care professionals, the government, patients, and the innovation community.  Recently ONC, working closely with Optum, an information and technology-enabled health services business, hosted a Power to the Patient Codeathon at Health 2.0’s Annual Fall Conference External Links Disclaimer in San Francisco. We also worked with Validic, a REST API that connects data from more than 75 mobile health apps, wearables, and in-home medical devices, to offer access to a range of sample data.

The Codeathon brought together developers, designers, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs from across the country for two days of designing and coding. The goal: patient empowerment through access to their health data using the Blue Button.

Codeathon submissions followed two tracks: applications that use patient-generated data from consumer devices to help providers better care for patients outside the clinic, and applications that redesigned the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement to make it more patient-friendly. Participants had to build their submission in 36 hours or less.

The winning submissions reflected a diverse mix of applications that can make a real difference in patients’ lives, giving them the tools they need to manage care for themselves and their families.

Blue Button & Patient Generated Health Data Track Winners:

  • Edge Interns External Links Disclaimer: Provides a safe and user-friendly environment for patient health evaluations, allowing doctors to schedule appointments, create medication reminders, and monitor patient health remotely.
  • Light Hearts External Links Disclaimer: Creates a congestive heart failure workflow for patients after they are discharged from the hospital, with the goals of promoting patient engagement through mobile and connected devices. It also helps prevent hospital readmissions.
  • Patient Watch External Links Disclaimer: Gathers patient data from wearable devices to track physiological changes, such as blood pressure or heart rate, and alerts the patient’s doctor through the EHR if there is a potential adverse drug reaction or complication due to a procedure indicated by vital sign fluctuations.

Financial Information & Explanation of Benefits Track Winners

  • WTF! Denied? External Links Disclaimer: Extracts data from the patient’s Explanation of Benefits and presents it to patients in a redesigned, easy to understand layout, and allows patients to interact with each other in an online forum dedicated to resolving EOB issues.
  • MintMD External Links Disclaimer: Consolidates, manages, and verifies patients’ healthcare cost information from multiple sources, including health insurance claims data, provider bills, insurance statements, and the patients’ Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account.
  • Archimedes External Links Disclaimer: Helps patients make informed purchasing decisions on California’s Health Insurance Exchange by combining patient health data with advanced analytics to deliver personalized, ranked insurance plans. The tool helps patients sort through the information about all available plans and choose one that best suits them and their family.

The participants considered the Codeathon a success. According to Jean-Ezra Yeung of MintMD, “The project was motivated by my own personal experience as a patient with many EOB documents seeking to manage costs…Codeathons with well-defined problems and use cases can help those with the business and technical know-how to create products that can add value to society.”

Adarsh Uppula of Patient Watch had this to say: “The Health 2.0 Codeathon was a great venue for tech entrepreneurs to mingle with medical professionals and pitch a winning idea in less than 36 hours! We think technology is going to disrupt health in a big way.”

These creative tech solutions demonstrate what can happen when health innovators have the tools they need to make their ideas a reality, and help us envision a future where all patients have control over their own data. Join the movement and stay updated on our progress External Links Disclaimer as the ONC continues to support and enable patient engagement in healthcare through Blue Button!