EHR Advancement for Veterans: Blue Button

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Have we taken EHR (Electronic Health Record) to a whole new level?

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A new initiative for veterans called “Blue Button” launched in 2010 is receiving positive responses from veterans who are now able to access and download their health information as well as their medical history online through this customized website created solely for those who’ve served our country in the past.

Blue Button, an assembled patient record, has been placed into a single, portable file. The file can be used with a growing number of electronic health record systems, including those used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, Medicare, and private companies including Kaiser Permanente, Aetna and UnitedHealth Group according to FierceHealthIT.

Blue Button, since its initiative, has received great results from users indicating they are more comfortable accessing their medical history in this manner because they have all their information presented to them in one place making it easier to read and keep organized.  Whereas before, their medical information can be found in various places and was very much unorganized making it difficult to make immediate and very much necessary medical decisions on the spot.

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With no one to contact in case of an emergency, who do you medical professionals turn to get health information on a patient presented to the Emergency Department unconscious? This was a thing of the past, we are happy to report.  Today, we are much more innovative and thanks for technological advancements such as these, patients are able to receive emergency care without providers fearing they will hurt the patient.  Their allergies as well as their previous doctors’ visits are now available online.  A great benefit to the medical professionals, who’ve struggled and delayed care due to this concern are now able to treat their patients and receive their past medical information to make sound decisions about their care.

Several of the Nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains are promising to support the Blue Button initiative, allowing patients to access their prescription information and empowering them to monitor history of medication online.  Several of the big pharmaceutical corporations are already participating allowing their customers to view their history, pharmacies like CVS, Rite Aid, Safeway, Walgreens and Kroger according to

In the future, calling in your prescription by your medical provider will be a breeze and almost effortless for customers, a major step for those in improving quality of healthcare in the future.

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As of last summer, more than one million patients had registered to use Blue Button to access and download their personal health record information and of the surveys conducted on this topic,  33% were current Blue Button users and reported being very happy with it.  In 2013, the VA Blue Button features have been enhanced with lots of new options due to data collected for further improvement of this new feature according to U.S Dept. of Veterans Affairs.  Also, iBlueButton mobile app is now accessible on your iPhone as well as your iPad.

Can we expect to see the same conversion for all patients in the near future? An option for those interested in combining their medical information into one place or will this become another mandatory requirement by our government? Something to think about … I truly hope not! It’s an option that only the patient should be allowed to make. It’s only an advancement if it’s an option!

By: Ida L


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