Blue Button ready for all feds

Millions of federal employees, retires and their families will soon have access to a technology that gives them easy online access to their personal health information, the Office of Personnel Management announced Jan. 19. 

In August 2010, President Barack Obama announced the “Blue Button” initiative that allows veterans to download their personal health information from their My HealtheVet account. The Veterans Affairs Department realized the effort, working closely with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Defense Department and the Markle Foundation's Consumer Engagement Workgroup.

Now the system is becoming available governmentwide, no longer limited to veterans.

With the help of Blue Button, patients can access and download their digital medical records by clicking the Blue Button on a secure website. The downloads come as text files that patients can share with health care providers or family members. Patients can also authorize use of a Blue Button transfer of their medical records from a physician to another.

"Blue Button is about patient-centered care," said Peter Levin, VA’s chief technology officer. "It is a very simple file that can be securely downloaded to any computer or smartphone without special software."

OPM asked Dec. 19, 2011 all health insurance carriers in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program to add Blue Button capabilities to personal health record systems on their websites. Nearly all FEHBPs today offer a personal health record to their members.

Adding Blue Button with all its features “makes care both easier and better,” OPM head John Berry said.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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