Federal employees, retirees and their families will have access to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Blue Button, which will allow them to download their personal health data from various websites via their health plans.
In a Carrier Letter issued on Dec. 19, 2011, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) asked all health insurance carriers in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) to add Blue Button functions to personal health record systems (PHRs) on their websites.
The Blue Button concept was drummed up by several government agencies. In 14 months, it has been in practice in the Department of Veterans Affairs health system as well as several CMS beneficiaries. It allows patients to see, download and keep their personal health data by clicking the "Blue Button" on a secure Internet site.
Patients can then choose to share their data with their physicians or family members or make it available if emergency treatment is needed. Blue Button downloads are delivered in text files that can be downloaded, read, stored and printed on any computer without special software. Patients can also authorize use of a Blue Button transfer of their medical data from a treating physician to another medical provider.
"Blue Button empowers hundreds of thousands of patients with their own data," Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer of the U.S. said in a statement. "We want federal employees, their families - and the general public - to benefit from easy access to Blue Button downloads as it rapidly scales to become a routine service in the care delivery system."