Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Health Records, One Click Away
Veterans could not download their personal information and share it with others - even doctors. Many patients, Veterans or not, have the same challenge of being able to quickly access their records, regardless of what heath plan they have, what doctor they see or where they receive their care.
VA has developed and installed a new feature – the Blue Button – on its online personal health portal, My HeatheVet, http://www.myhealth.va.gov/. Veterans who have identity verified access to My HeatheVet can click a “Blue Button” on the website to download their health information to their own home computer or portable memory device. They can share that information with other providers, caregivers, or family members safely, securely, and privately.
Veterans can use the Blue Button to download information they enter in their own personal health record: emergency contacts, military health history, important test results, medications, allergies and any other health information the Veteran feels a doctor, hospital or caregiver might need to know. Veterans with identity verified access are also able to download their VA prescription drug history and wellness reminders from VA’s medical record. When Blue Button receives its first upgrade early in 2011, Veterans will be able to download all this information and more: upcoming appointments, treatment locations, provider names and health insurance information they’ve entered. The upgrade will also allow sorting information by date and data type.
Why the VA Blue Button is an Important Innovation: VA is one of the first national health plans to give its patients online access to downloadable personal heath information. Blue Button information can make a big difference in a medical emergency. Hospitals usually need only a few key facts to give the most efficient and effective care: knowing a patient’s medications, allergies (especially to drugs), key medical history and emergency contact information can save a life. Blue Button information also makes it easier when seeing a doctor outside the VA system for the first time. Blue Button information can help avoid having duplicate procedures or tests, saving time and money.
VA’s Blue Button is one of many government-wide initiatives to help everyone – not just Veterans – have access to their own health information through Personal Health Records. VA is working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Department of Defense to make Blue Button technology available to all government health plan beneficiaries. Non-government health insurance and benefit plans are working on their own Blue Buttons.
VA’s Blue Button deliberately uses a simple-as-it-gets ASCII download format which allows the data to be read on any computer, read on any browser and printed on any printer. Technology is rapidly moving toward the day when Blue Button information can be directly uploaded into web-based Personal Health Records – and by using the simple ASCII format, VA is helping make that day come sooner for all Americans.
Of the 1.1 million users of My HealtheVet, more than 233,000 Veterans have upgraded (identity-verified) access to data from their VA medical record via Blue Button. During the first two months following Blue Button’s launch on August 28, 2010 about 100,000 Veterans asked to view their personal health data using the Blue Button and more than 150,000 PHRs were downloaded.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: The email@example.com email address is intended for questions about the VA’s Blue Button initiative and related initiatives and is not equipped to provide VA benefits support. If you are a Veteran, spouse or dependent and have questions about your benefits, please visit http://www.vba.va.gov/VBA/.