The Power Of The Blue Button

Peter Levin and Lygeia Ricciardi | Health IT Buzz | October 1, 2012

In August 2010, just 25 months ago,  President Obama announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was going to make Veterans’ personal health records available to them online with something called the “Blue Button.”  Blue Button is an incredibly simple idea. It puts electronic information in the hands of patients—safely, reliably, and conveniently.

Imagine this situation: Your elderly parent lives in Washington D.C. Although she lives independently, and by herself, she still has a few chronic conditions that require daily medicines. One day a ferocious storm hits and knocks out the power to hundreds of thousands of residences. In the darkness, your Mom falls down, and needs to be brought to the emergency room. There’s no way that she’s going to remember all her medications—name, dose, frequency—and you’re not going to remember them either. Now we have a real, life-threatening problem.

This is a true story. This really happened...