Help Us Put Blue Button on the Map

Peter Garrett | September 16, 2013

How do we talk about the Blue Button Initiative in a way that really gets the attention of those who don’t already know about it or haven’t thought about its benefits? 


That was our question when we set out to plan the first nationwide Blue Button communications campaign External Links Disclaimer (launch planned for January 2014).

Blue Button has been a success

We knew that once exposed to the concept, many patients and caregivers are quick to embrace the Blue Button. Over a million veterans have used Blue Button, and many are seeing the benefits.

Here at ONC, and many of us who work in health care, are already “true believers” of Blue Button because we see the huge potential for higher quality, safer care when patients and caregivers use technology to be more engaged in their health.

But what would it take to reach MILLIONS of people about Blue Button?

Especially those who can’t spell health IT (or, just as importantly, might never want to learn!?!)

We learned a lot through health IT focus groups

We started with insights from real people and providers with whom we talked with this summer.  We conducted focus groups, invited some stakeholders to join us, and listened closely to:

  • heart disease patients
  • diabetic patients
  • cancer patients
  • seniors
  • moms and
  • Adults caring for other adults.

What we learned:

While Blue Button is not well known, the concept is very appealing to the folks we heard from – especially in giving them and their caregivers access to their health information during an emergency.

We are also using National Survey Results to inform communications and share with interested consumer groups.

Some additional and interesting findings from a nationwide survey show: (stay tuned, we will publish the results of the entire survey later in the fall)

  • Many patients don’t all know their rights. Between ¼ and 1/3rd of the survey respondents didn’t know they had a right to get their health information.
  • The majority of heart patients say they would use the Blue Button. Based on what we told them about Blue Button, the majority (57%) of cardiovascular patients indicated they would use it if it were available to them.
  • Cancer patients are interested in becoming more engaged. Two thirds (61%) of cancer patients consider themselves “extremely” or “very” likely to view their medical records and personal health information online if it was made available by a health care provider.

We’ve used these findings and insights from stakeholders to build an integrated communications campaign for Blue Button, and we’ve created communications tools for supporting organizations to use in January 2014, including three PSAs to educate consumers about Blue Button. We believe these ads, which will be co-branded, address the interests and concerns of cancer, diabetes and hearts patients, as well as parents and caregivers.

We updated the Blue Button logo

We updated the look and feel of the Blue Button logo based on consumer preferences (and to tie in with our other communications efforts such as the ONC HIT Certification Mark).

We’re building an online Blue Button tool for consumers

This online tool will help match consumers with useful sources of their health information such as providers, health plans, pharmacies and labs when the campaign launches in January.

The time for Blue Button is here!

We are all excited about helping patients understand the capabilities of Blue Button and their right to:

  • View it
  • Check it
  • Use It
  • & Share it!

We can all be in more charge of our health and health care by Blue Buttoning our information and using it.

Will you help us spread the good word that each individual can get access to their own health data using Blue Button? And stay tuned for updates related to our future communications plan for the Blue button initiative.  Also join us live on September 16 for the 2013 Consumer Health IT Summit.