What is Blue Button?
The Blue Button represents a national movement that enables consumers to have easy access to their own health information in a format that they can use. The concept emerged in 2010, aimed at enabling more direct consumer access to personal health information by adding a ‘Download My Data’ button to patient portal systems. The Blue Button logo signifies that a consumer can download a single electronic file that contains their available health data.
On August 2, 2010 President Obama announced the “Blue Button®” capability that allows Veterans to download their personal health information from their My HealtheVet account. VA developed the Blue Button in collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Department of Defense, along with the Markle Foundation's Consumer Engagement Workgroup. VA’s Blue Button became operational at the end of August and the initiative was made nationally available in October 2010. Since then, the Blue Button has spread beyond VA to other government agencies and the private sector, technology developers demonstrated innovative ways to enhance visual representation of Blue Button data, and novel applications emerged to enable consumers to import and aggregate their Blue Button data from various sources. Responsibility for encouraging broader use of Blue Button and enhancing its technical standards was transferred to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2012. In 2014, ONC also launched a Blue Button Connector website to help consumers locate and access their personal health information sources.
My HealtheVet allows Veterans to self-enter their personal health indicators (blood pressure, weight, heart rate), emergency contact information, test results, family health history, military health history, and other health related information. My HealtheVet users who receive VA health care services can also refill their prescriptions and view their appointments, allergies, and laboratory results online.
The Blue Button feature allows Veterans to access and download their information into a very simple text file or PDF that can be read, printed, or saved on any computer. The download can include all their data, or be broken out by data class, or by date range. Blue Button gives Veterans complete control of this information – without any special software – and enables Veterans to share this data with their health care providers, caregivers, or people they trust.
What kind of data is available?
Self entered data elements available for download include:
- Demographic 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 (Self and Relatives)
- Military Health History
- Health Data (blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, etc.)
- My Goals: Current Goals and Completed Goals
- Other health-related information the Veteran feels a doctor or hospital might need to know
Veterans who are receiving medications from VA can download their VA medication history.
VA patients who have authenticated their identity in person may upgrade their My HealtheVet account privileges, which will include data from their VA electronic health record including:
- VA Admissions and Discharges
(for Discharge Summary, 3 day hold period applies)
- VA Allergies
- VA Appointments (future)
- VA Appointments (limited to past 2 years)
- VA Demographics
- VA Electrocardiogram (EKG) List of studies
- VA Immunizations
- VA Laboratory Results: Chemistry/Hematology/Microbiology
(3 day hold period applies)
- VA Notes
(from 01 Jan 2013 forward, 3 day hold period applies)
- VA Pathology Reports: Surgical Pathology, Cytology, Electron Microscopy
(14 day hold period applies)
- VA Problem List (3 day hold period applies)
- VA Radiology (3 day hold period applies)
- VA Vitals and Readings
- VA Wellness Reminders
- DoD Military Service Information
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What about my military service information?
VA patients who have authenticated their identity may also see key military service information including:
- Pay Details
- Service Dates
- Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) codes
- Deployment Periods
- Retirement Periods
Military employment information available to Veterans under this program will depend on discharge or retirement date, since the data comes from official Department of Defense electronic files.
- Some Veterans discharged between 1975-1980 will see MOS codes
- All Veterans discharged after 1980 will see MOS codes.
- Some Gulf War Veterans may see combat pay and deployment periods
- All Post-9/11 Veterans will see Combat Pay and Deployment Periods
- Retirees will have complete information
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How do I use Blue Button?
After you create a My HealtheVet account, you can access the Blue Button:
- Login to your My HealtheVet account
- Select Download My Data from the Home Page
- You can then view, print or download your personal health information using the VA Blue Button.
If you have an upgraded account, you will also include information from your VA electronic health record that is available in My HealtheVet. To get an upgraded account you must complete a one-time process called In-Person Authentication (IPA). You can upgrade your account at your VA Medical Center or Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC).
Blue Button was created with Veterans in mind. To use Blue Button, no training is needed, but you may have questions. You can select the VA Blue Button User Guide (PDF) to see how the VA Blue Button works. If you have questions, please use the Contact MHV tab at the top of any page on My HealtheVet. You may also contact the My HealtheVet Coordinator at your local VA Medical Center.
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Is it safe?
You are the only one who sees your health information in My HealtheVet. You decide how to share that information. If you want someone else to see your health information, you must personally give it to him or her.
You are responsible for protecting the personal health information you print out or download. It is important to protect your information. Protect this information the same way you would protect your banking or credit card information. Do not leave your printed information on a printer. Do not save your downloaded information to a public computer. When using a public computer, save your health information to a CD or thumb drive. Remember to take the CD or thumb drive with you when you finish.
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How can I use my data?
Using the Blue Button can help you partner with your health care team to improve your health. You may feel more involved when you share your health information with members of your health care team. Your health care team can give you safer care if they know about your health and health history
Your military service information can help if you are looking for a new job or considering changing careers. Share it with employers or career counselors as part of your application process.
More questions about My HealtheVet and Blue Button? Visit the My HealtheVet's Frequently Asked Questions.