Blue Button Goes Viral: UnitedHealthcare Promotes Importance of Personal Health Records to Millions of Enrollees

Press Release | UnitedHealthcare | July 5, 2012
  • UnitedHealthcare implements program begun by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Millions of people will have a new, easy way to access their personal health records online

MINNETONKA, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--UnitedHealthcare has launched its Blue Button, implementing a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program that enables millions of plan participants to access and print their personal health records with the simple click of a blue button.

For years, nearly 20 million people who log on to UnitedHealthcare’s health and wellness site on have had access to a personal health record (PHR). However, adding the signature Blue Button to the site will further promote the importance of a PHR and give users the ability to print their personal health records (PHR) in either PDF or text formats.

UnitedHealthcare members can view, print and download information from various sources, such as claims data, health screenings and self-entry. An individual’s PHR will include critical health information such as previous or current health conditions, vital signs and procedures, and personal information that allow easy sharing of important information.

UnitedHealthcare’s support of the Blue Button initiative first began in September 2011, and in March 2012 the Blue Button went live on one website for 500,000 people enrolled in Health Plan of Nevada benefit plans. As UnitedHealthcare rapidly expands the use of the Blue Button, more than 12 million employer-sponsored plan participants will have access by the end of the year, and by mid-2013 nearly all 26 million UnitedHealthcare enrollees will be able to access their PHR with the click of the Blue Button.

“Blue Button is a new, convenient way people can access their health records securely and easily with just a single click,” said Karl Ulfers, vice president, Consumer Solutions. “This technology encourages people to update their personal health records as well as print them, so they can take their records with them and discuss their health and treatments with their doctors.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs launched the Blue Button in 2010 to allow simple exchange of a patient’s personal health data in a standard, consistent format. Initially designed for use by veterans, the idea has taken off in the private sector and has been supported by at least one major care provider overseas. Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services have encouraged the health industry to adopt the Blue Button, and UnitedHealthcare is pleased to do so.

“Blue Button puts patients in charge of their personal health information. It is central to our vision of patient-centered clinical encounters,” said Peter L. Levin, chief technology officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs. “The federal Blue Button initiative is a great example of public-private partnerships and open government. With Blue Button the government created a framework that offers patients private and secure access to their data, and is a model for the private sector.”

About half a million veterans and Medicare members, including nonveterans, have already downloaded their records using the Blue Button interface, according to Veterans Affairs CIO Roger Baker.

“By the end of 2012, we think as many as 75 million people will have access to their medical information through Blue Button,” Baker said. “We’re getting a lot of adoption by private-sector organizations.”

As the managed healthcare organization ranked No. 1 in innovation by Fortune magazine, UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, continues to lead and innovate by providing new tools and technologies that encourage and enable Americans to use information to live healthier lives.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.