ONC Unveils Blue Button Campaign, Toolkit During Health IT Week

September 17, 2014 in News

On Monday, National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo kicked off National Health IT Week by announcing an upcoming Blue Button campaign that will focus on consumers’ access to their personal health data, FierceHealthIT reports (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 9/15).


In 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched the Blue Button tool to help veterans access and exchange their personal health data in a standard, consistent manner. Since then, other private and federal agencies have implemented the tool (iHealthBeat, 9/2).

Blue Button Campaign Details

As part of the Blue Button campaign, ONC released a new Blue Button Toolkit, Health Data Management reports.

The toolkit is designed to help organizations — including health information exchanges, immunization registries, labs and pharmacies — improve access to consumers’ personal health data. It includes information about:

  • Marketing materials and strategies; and
  • Technical guidelines for sharing patient data (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 9/16).

In addition, the toolkit updated and replaced the Blue Button Implementation Guide, which ONC expects to continue to update as it adopts new standards.

The implementation guide now includes:

  • A portfolio of national standards to increase access to electronic health records;
  • Alternative technical procedures for exchanging consumer information, including application programming interfaces, secure attachments and Web services;
  • Marketing materials and guidelines on how to include the Blue Button symbol in an organization’s product or on its website; and
  • The ability to tailor the Blue Button website to the specific needs of an organization (“Health IT Buzz,” 9/15).

DeSalvo Highlights Need for Interoperability

During her speech, DeSalvo also highlighted the importance of interoperability among health IT systems to avoid mistakes in care delivery, Clinical Innovation Technology reports.

Specifically, DeSalvo said that a lack of interoperability can lead to gaps in care, missed handoffs and at times patient harm.

She said, “Consumers can help us play an increasing role in interoperability,” adding that she foresees a future in which¬† patients are at the center of health care and have the ability to leverage data beyond what is collected in the clinical environment (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 9/15).

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