Blue Button For America

Matthew McCall and Henry Wei | VAntage Point | February 5, 2013

In August 2010, President Obama announced the Blue Button in a speech to the national convention of Disabled American Veterans.  In his remarks, he said that “for the first time ever Veterans will be able to go to the VA website, click a simple Blue Button, and download or print your personal health records so you have that when you need them and can share that with your doctors outside of the VA.”

What began as a simple, ultra-low-cost experiment has spread quickly. The cumulative number of Veterans Affairs (VA) Blue Button downloads is already over 2.7 million and growing, and the program has been adopted by both the Department of Defense and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

As we wrap up our work as the inaugural “Blue Button for America” Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIFs), we wanted to explain how we used this opportunity to advance that vision of patient access that began with Veterans to serve all Americans. As Blue Button PIFs, we focused on two things: making the downloadable health record as complete as possible, which makes it even more useful to Veterans, and implementing it in a way that can be a model for every patient and health care system in the nation...