Call for Participation in the Automate Blue Button Initiative: Enhancing Consumer Access to Health Information

Lygeia Ricciardi and Dr. Doug Fridsma | August 9, 2012

We need your help! In response to feedback received during the June 4 Patient Access Summit, ONC and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will soon be launching an initiative to automate “Blue Button”  by developing standards and specifications that allow patients to not only download their health information to their personal computer, but also to privately and securely automate the sending of that data from their health care providers to their personal health records, email accounts, health-related applications, or other preferred holding place.  This will ensure that consumers have the most current, up-to-date information about their health at their fingertips whenever they need it.

What Is Blue Button?

Blue Button is a web tool patients can use to view and download their personal health information. Two years ago, VA added a simple, easy to recognize “Blue Button” to their patient portal (MyHealtheVet), which gave individual users the opportunity to download their data to their personal computer. Since then, several hundred thousand individuals have logged onto the tool to download their personal health information, and Blue Button has grown into a movement. Many of the country’s largest data holders, including federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) and private health plans such as United HealthCare and Aetna, have embraced Blue Button as a way to make health care data available to their beneficiaries in a printable, downloadable format.

Why Is Patient Access to Information Important?

Ensuring increased patient and family engagement in health and health care is a key focus of the Stage 1 and proposed Stage 2 meaningful use rules. By empowering patients to be partners in their health and health care through information technology, we are enabling them to use their data to:

  • Better understand their health and make more informed decisions
  • Help to make sure that they and all of their care team members are on the same page
  • Improve the accuracy and completeness of the information
  • Plug it into apps and tools that promise to make information truly available when and where it’s needed

How Can You Get Involved?

To make this initiative a success, we need the help of volunteers who are eager to make rapid progress on this important project. We need experts to develop standards and pilot the technology, innovators to push the envelope, and patients and providers to test that it works.

To learn more about the Automate Blue Button initiative and how you can help, please join us for a webinar on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM ET.

To register for the webinar, go to: Exit Disclaimer

If you don’t have technical expertise, but would still like to get involved, there will be other opportunities to support consumer engagement via ehealth.  Stay tuned for information on a meeting we’re planning in Washington D.C. on September 10that will bring together diverse groups of patients, consumer advocates, providers, payers, technology developers, and policymakers toward a common goal of empowering patients to electronically access and use their health information to be better partners in their health.

If you would like additional information about related initiatives, please check out ONC’s Standards and Interoperability Framework Exit Disclaimer and the ONC Pledge Program.

Thanks as always for the great work you are doing and your willingness to collaborate.

For more information on health information technology, visit