Presidential Innovation Fellow Position Created for 'Blue Button' Initiative

The extraordinary success of the 'Blue Button' initiative has led Steve Van Roekel, Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the U.S. government, and Todd Park, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), to create a Presidential Innovation Fellow position that will take the lead in driving a “game-changing project” that will take Blue Button to the next level.

Blue Button is now being used by nearly one million veterans to gain access to their medical records and the solution is rapidly expanding to the private sector. UnitedHealthcare, for example, just implemented Blue Button to enable more than 20 million “plan participants to access and print their personal health records with the simple click of a blue button.”

The Presidential Innovation Fellows Program pairs top innovators and entrepreneurs from the private sector, non-profits, or academia with top innovators in government to collaborate on game-changing solutions that aim to deliver significant results in six months. The aim is to further empower all Americans to improve their health by helping them to access and utilize their own data extracted from the EHR systems of their healthcare providers.

One of these projects involves extending the work done by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the 'Blue Button' and My HealtheVet personal health record (PHR) systems. This effort would benefit not only veterans under the care of the VA, but would also have value for the health care industry as a whole. The White House and the VA are currently seeking to appoint a high-impact, high-energy Presidential Innovation Fellow to lead this initiative.

The 'Blue Button' software solution provides a capability that enables individuals to securely download their own health information via a simple text file from their healthcare provider's electronic health record (EHR) system. It includes information such as current medications and drug allergies, claims and treatment data, and lab reports. The 'Blue Button' solution has been available to Veterans, uniformed service members, and Medicare beneficiaries for over a year. Millions of people have already taken advantage of the blue button to download their own health information.

Stay updated on the Blue Button by following the @ProjectBlueBtn on Twitter. Also monitor progress on the related effort to have the My HealtheVet PHR system incorporate many features of the open source HealtheMe platform by the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent (OSEHRA).

For more information about the Presidential Innovation Fellows, go to the following pages on the White House web site -


Peter Groen, Senior Editor, Open Health News (OHN)