Push The Blue Button For Easy Access To Medical Imaging Files


Patient Easy Access to Medical ImagingTo improve healthcare, we must empower patients. In order to empower patients, they need to be able to access and download their own health information and medical imaging reports so that they can more effectively participate in and manage their own health care.

Enter the Blue Button Initiative. The Blue Button is a highly visible, clickable button that allows patients to download their own medical records and medical imaging files in digital form, from a secure website offered by their hospital, doctors, pharmacies or other health-related service. After downloading, they can study it, examine their file and share their records with their doctors or others as they see fit.

The Blue Button Goes Viral

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) first used the Blue Button logo on its patient portal in 2010. By clicking on the button, individuals could download their medical records in digital form. Since then, millions of Veterans have downloaded their personal health information.

Considered to be a resounding success, the Blue Button encouraged other federal and private organizations to get into the act. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) along with private health plans, such as United HealthCare and Aetna, have embraced the Blue Button in order to make individual health care data readily available.

Blue Button +

Stage 2 of Meaningful Use requires that patients be given the capability to view, download and transmit their health data electronically. These requirements are fully aligned with the Blue Button goals of empowering patients to be partners in their health care through access to and use of personal health information. The Blue Button vision is constantly evolving and expanding to encompass a variety of technical solutions.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) created Blue Button+ as an evolution of the Blue Button. They are collaborating with health technology vendors to make patient data and medical imaging secure, more accessible and interoperable. Blue Button+ uses direct protocols to securely transport health information from providers to third party applications.

Quite simply, to support Meaningful Use applications for patients, health data needs to be seamlessly transmitted when their record is updated. Blue Button+ makes this possible – by enabling patients to request past, real-time – and better yet – “on-going” sharing of their information.

What has been your organization’s experience with the Blue Button initiative – and – do you think we’ll see widespread adoption of Blue Button+?  I encourage you to share your feedback via a comment below.

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