Didn’t Blue Button start at the VA? How is it evolving?
The Veterans Health Administration launched the Blue Button in August 2010 by adding it to VA’s MyHealtheVet patient portal. Veterans could use the Blue Button to download their health information in a simple text format (American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)) that could be read, downloaded and printed to any computer without special software. Veterans could also choose to email the ASCII file to caregivers or family.
Since then, Blue Button has moved well beyond VA to become a recognizable brand for consumer access to and use of electronic health data. As of fall 2012, “Blue Button” is managed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT in the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), which is working to support its technical evolution and its widespread adoption as a brand.
As it has matured, Blue Button has evolved both in its technical definition and in the number of organizations using it. In the future, more consumers will be able to view, download and transmit their data electronically to people they trust, and to have it in both a human readable and machine-readable format. The vision for and definition Blue Button is evolving to keep pace with the environment.
Today, more than 100 million Americans have access to Blue Button downloads through the patient portals of their health plans, doctors or hospitals websites’ and from Medicare, VA and Tricare. And more than one million Americans have actually used Blue Button to get access to their health data.