Blue Button, The Easiest Way To Download And Share PHR
Major medical information at hospitals and other health care service providers were stored in paper files, so it was not convenient to access or use. But not any more as America’s health care system goes digital.
Many people in the U.S still do not have an easy electronic access to their health information and many are unaware of the steps taken by the Federal government towards solving that problem.
Blue Button Data for America is a collaborative effort by the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand consumer access to personal health information.
Blue Button is a way to get easy, secure online access to your health information. With Blue Button you can “download your health data” and use it to improve your health and be more engaged in your healthcare.
In simple terms, it enables personal health record (PHR) users to view, download and share their personal health information online. All this for free!
Blue Button is now widely used by hospitals, doctors and health plans across the United States. Several Federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs implemented this capability for their beneficiaries.
Benefits Of Blue Button Data
Health care providers, insurance companies and others are able to give patients and consumers access to their health information electronically through “Blue Button”.
- Ability to access your health information on demand. This can be life saving in an emergency situation.
- Prevent medication errors.
- Improve care co-ordination. Everyone who is caring for you is on the same page.
- Electronic access to vital health information such as current medications and drug allergies, claims and treatment data and lab results.
- Secure access and download of health information. Share it with trusted people.
- Patients can plug their health data into mobile apps and other tools that help them in understanding their health better and prevent illness.
Blue Button File
You can use Blue Button to download your personal health information in the form a text or PDF file. Features of a Blue Button file –
- Blue Button file is machine readable, which means, it is easily analyzed by a computer.
- Blue Button file can be downloaded, read and printed on any computer or mobile device without special software.
- Blue Button text files are a simple way to transmit health information to doctors, hospitals, emergency responders and other caregivers.
Data Elements Available For Download Using The Blue Button
Self-entered data as follows:
- Statistical Information
- Emergency Contact Information
- Health Care Providers
- Health Insurance
- Treatment Facilities
- Medical Conditions and Personal Medical History
- Medications, Herbals, and Supplements
- Allergies and Adverse Reactions
- Lab and Test Results
- Vitals and Readings
- Family Health History
- Health Data (blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, etc.)
- Other health-related information the user feels a doctor or hospital might need to know
How does the Blue Button work?
The Blue Button allows you to download and/or print your own health information without using any special software.
Blue Button has the ability to make it easier for you to view, download and share your personal health data with others you trust.
However, a personal health record is needed to store and manage all your health information in one place. Health plans, health care providers, nursing homes, pharmacies, laboratories and other institutions that have your health information on file are offering you a portal or personal health record. It is a place for you to store and manage your health information online. You can also sign up to get one on your own.
The Blue Button enables you to securely access your personal health data online by clicking on a “Blue Button” logo or icon.
You may have access to your claims and personal health information that is maintained by your doctors, hospitals, health plans, and others, depending on the tools and data they are offering.
Patients can securely access their health data and then choose to download that data to their computer, thumb drive or smartphone without using any special software, or share that data with individuals they trust. It can be their other physicians or family members.
Who Can avail The Blue Button Services?
Blue Button services are currently available for –
- Medicare beneficiary or Service members
- Users and patients of Health plan, health care provider (doctor or hospital) or other entities which use Blue Button
Safety Of Your Medical Information
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) keeps entities covered under HIPAA accountable for the privacy and security of patients’ health information.
Paper medical charts or health information in a digital format called electronic health records, the providers bear the responsibility of keeping your health information private and secure.
Health care providers are required by the HIPAA Security Rule to set up physical, administrative and technical safeguards to protect your electronic health information such as
- Access controls like passwords and PIN numbers to help limit access to your information.
- Encryption which ensures that your health information can’t be read or understood by unauthorized people.
- Audit trail to keep a record of the information accessed and what changes were made when.
But, once you download your personal health information from your health care provider or plan’s web site, the responsibility is in your hands.
Know your rights
Americans have the legal right to access their health information held by doctors, hospitals and others that provide health care services. But many of us don’t, either because we don’t know we can or because we’re not sure what to do with our health information once we have it.
All that is changing with more health care providers (doctors and hospitals) adopting electronic health record systems and other health information technology. Patients will have more opportunities to access their health records electronically and also engage with their clinical teams about their medical records.
Health care providers, Health plans, pharmacies and others can join Blue Button to help you download your health information and use it to better manage your health and engage in your healthcare.
More and more health care providers, health plans, pharmacies, labs and others are giving patients easy-to-use tools to securely access, reliably download, and conveniently share their own health information.
Make the best use of these facilities to take better care of yourself as well as your family.