“Blue Button” is shorthand for a movement toward an improved healthcare system in which patients and providers use information technology to collaborate and improve health. The Blue Button logo signifies that you—as an individual consumer or patient--can get easy, secure access to your own health information in a format you can use. To “Blue Button” is a verb, meaning, for a consumer, “download my health data so I can use it.” As Americans, we each have the legal right to access our own health information held by doctors, hospitals and others that provide health care services for us. But many of us don’t, either because we don’t know we can, or because we’re not sure what to do with it. Until recently, most medical information was stored in paper files, so it wasn’t very easy to access or use anyhow. But all that is changing.
As America’s health care system rapidly goes digital, health care providers, insurance companies and others are starting to give patients and consumers access to their health information electronically through the “Blue Button”. Blue Button information can be lifesaving in an emergency situation, can help prevent medication errors, and can improve care coordination so everyone who is caring for you is on the same page. As a result of Blue Button, many patients can now electronically access the vital health information they need to keep track of their medicines, chronic conditions, and laboratory results. They can securely access and download that information and share it with people they trust. Increasingly, they can also plug it into apps and tools that help them to better understand their health, prevent illness, and modify their own behaviors in healthy ways. Study after study shows that engaged patients recover more quickly, and stay healthy longer. Blue Button includes a vision for better health and health care and a specific “action” consumers can take—download your own health information and use it! Blue Button is also becoming a movement. Won’t you join us?