On October 25, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that RelayHealth Connectivity Solutions had won the “Blue Button for All Americans” Contest. In addition, RelayHealth announced that it would donate the $50,000 prize to the Wounded Warrior Project, which supports programs that assist injured service members, veterans, and their families. A portion of this prize money will aid the many wounded warriors residing in southern California. RelayHealth won the $50,000 contest prize by making a Blue Button personal health record (PHR) system available to all patients, including veterans, of more than 25,000 physicians across America. The VA’s Innovations Initiative (VAi2) sponsored the contest. Blue Button personal health records (PHR) allow patients to see, download and keep their health data by clicking the “Blue Button” on a secure Internet site. Patients can then choose to share their data with their physicians or family members or make it available if emergency treatment is needed. Blue Button downloads are delivered in text files that can be downloaded, read, stored and printed on any computer without special software. Patients can also authorize use of a Blue Button transfer of their medical data from a treating physician to another medical provider. A recent study by New York-based Manhattan Research found that 56 million Americans have accessed their health information on electronic systems maintained by their physicians; furthermore, 41 million more are interested in doing so.
The Blue Button concept was developed by the VA in collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Markle Foundation. The VA was the first health system to offer Blue Button functions to its patients in August 2010; since then, hundreds of thousands of Veterans have downloaded their data from VA’s MyHealtheVet website: www.myhealth.va.gov.
“We held this contest to help veterans across America to be able to download their health data regardless of where they get their care,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We wanted to give veterans and their families easy access to their health data with the Blue Button so they can have greater control over the health care they receive. RelayHealth’s contribution to this goal is more than commendable.”
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