Blue Button for EHRs Fails to Gain Traction


According to the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), the government's push to adopt the Blue Button format for exchanging healthcare information between EHR systems at clinics and patients with home computers is stalled. Blue Button was developed by the Veterans Affairs Department to promote interoperability between providers and veterans by enabling them to access their medical records from their web-based personal health record.

WEDI surveyed 274 representatives of providers, health plans, health information technology vendors, and claims clearinghouses. Only 8% of respondents use Secure Blue Button Trust bundles delivered using the DIRECT messaging protocol. Furthermore, only 33% of respondents indicated that they were familiar with the government's Blue Button initiative. 39% of respondents say that their organizations offer some form of a personal health –record system.

The first Blue Button-reproduced records were in plain text ASCII format, which is readable by people and computers. Blue Button is supported by Obama, healthcare organizations and vendors, and by federal health IT policy leaders. Blue Button is one of the several channels that may be a way for providers to achieve interoperability between their systems and patients. Other technologies are also competing with Blue Button, such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources and Apple Healthkit.

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