Pushing the Blue Button was what a parade of government and private-sector health information technology leaders did—often and with gusto—during a series of panel discussions in Washington to kick off Health IT Week.
The "silly little ASCII file," as Peter Levin, chief technology officer at the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department described it, is now the format of copies of electronic medical records accessible by more than 1 million VA patients who have registered to use the VA-developed Blue Button system that launched in 2010. Named for a Blue Button on the VA's personal health-record system that activates the mechanism, it enables veterans to access their records is the VA's VistA EHR system and copy them in either the plain-text ASCII or PDF formats.
Speaking at a consumer health information technology summit, Levin said the VA plans "in a couple of days" to add veterans' immunization records to those records already accessible via the Blue Button technology.
Levin joined Dr. Farzad Mostashari, head of HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and Todd Park, federal CTO, to tout government plans to work with the private sector to expand Blue Button use.
The goal, Mostashari said, is to increase the ranks of Blue Button users from 1 million to 10 million and then to "the entire country."