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Blue Button set for improvements

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Federal health information technology officials highlighted Jan. 16 efforts to give patients the ability to download personal health record data via the Blue Button initiative.

During a webinar hosted by the National eHealth Collaborative, officials drew attention to a Jan. 6 draft Blue Button implementation guide outlining how providers can securely transmit patient data and do so in a semi-structured manner. The pell-mell quality of Blue Button-downloaded data has long been recognized as a downfall of the effort, which began in the Veterans Affairs Department as a means to permit patients to have an electronic receipt of care received.

Providers who use the guide--meant for the next iteration of the Blue Button, dubbed Blue Button +--will be able to meet some requirements for stage 2 meaningful use, said Lygeia Ricciardi, acting director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT office of consumer health, notes Government HealthIT. One of the core stage 2 requirements for hospitals (.pdf) and professionals (.pdf) is providing patients "the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information."

The implementation guide not only outlines how to allow downloadable data, but how to push it to patients via an application programing interface. A final draft is due by the end of this month, said Pierce Graham-Jones, who has a 1 year innovation fellowship at the Health and Human Services Department.

For more:
- go to the draft Blue Button + implementation guide

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