ONC aiming for Blue Button 'Goldilocks' of data access

Mary Mosquera | Government Health IT | June 19, 2012

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is exploring how to use some of its standards and interoperability activities around Blue Button to tackle barriers to consumer engagement and access to data. While Blue Button was developed by the Veterans Affairs Department to enable patients to download their health information to a computer or personal health record (PHR), it has come to signify more, according to Doug Fridsma, MD, PhD, director of ONC’s Office of Standards and Interoperability and acting chief scientist.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also enables seniors to use Blue Button. “Blue Button isn’t a standard. It’s really a campaign, a way for people to say that we want access to our data,” Fridsma explained at last week's Government Health IT conference. Fridsma said the Standards and Interoperability Framework community was doing its “homework” on how to address some of these issues “by not creating huge cumbersome standards, but in fact creating the Goldilocks, not too light, not too heavy, but that helps us provide the answer.”

He suggested, “What if we made it look like a Transitions of Care document, or made it possible to click a Blue Button and push the information to my PHR? What if it were possible to click on the CMS Blue Button and then subscribe to data feeds that came from there?” One of the activities of the S&I Framework community is defining standard Transitions of Care content so that providers can electronically exchange core clinical information with other providers and patients to improve care coordination...