'Blue button' makes EMRs downloadable in one click

Your humble FierceEMR editor has been a rather unrelenting critic of the hype surrounding the minuscule public adoption of personal health records. Finally, others are seeing that there needs to be a simpler, more cohesive way of informing patients about the availability of such technology.

This week, 46 organizations, led by the Markle Foundation, embraced the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) strategy by endorsing the concept of the "blue button" for dowloading personal health data from a provider's or insurer's EMR. Simply click on the blue button in an EMR to transfer data to a PHR.

"By clicking the blue button, you could get your own health information electronically--things like summaries of doctor visits, medications you are currently taking, or test results," Dr. Carol Diamond, managing director for healthcare at Markle, says in a press release. "Being able to have your own electronic copies and share them as you need to with your doctors is a first step in truly enabling people to engage in their healthcare."

The Department of Veterans Affairs began beta-testing the blue button in its My HealtheVet patient portal, and will join with CMS for an official, wide-scale launch of the feature in October to serve potentially tens of millions of veterans and Medicare beneficiaries nationwide, Federal Computer Week reports.

The blue button is backed by a privacy and security framework that Markle developed in conjunction with its 45 partners that include IT vendors, providers, health insurers, patient advocacy groups and privacy watchdogs. The coalition has asked the Obama administration to require EMRs to have the blue button or a similar one-click download feature in future stages of EMR "meaningful use."

"This capability is not common today, but we have the opportunity to make it a basic expectation, especially now that billions of public dollars will be flowing to help subsidize health information technology," Diamond explains.

For more information:
- take a look at this Federal Computer Week story
- read this Markle press release
- see this issue brief from Markle (.pdf)
- here's the full report (.pdf)