The Curious Case Of Blue Button

Ken Congdon | Healthcare Technology Online | July 2, 2012

Until recently, I took only a passing interest in Blue Button, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) app that allows veterans to download their health records to a computer, mobile device, or jump drive. I realize this probably reflects poorly on me given the fact that I’m a health IT journalist, but I guess I viewed Blue Button more as a nifty feature on the VA’s online patient portal, My HealtheVet, than a game-changer in the world of HIE (health information exchange) and patient engagement. Quite frankly, in the wake of Google Health’s demise, I didn’t think many veterans would even be inclined to use Blue Button.

However, my interest in this initiative was renewed during a HIMSS Tweet Chat with former Chief Technology Officer of the United States Aneesh Chopra held in May. During the chat, Chopra was asked to reveal the most inspiring health IT story he’d heard in the past 3 months. In fewer than 140 characters, Chopra vaguely spoke of an injured disabled vet that successfully used Blue Button to aid in his own recovery. For some reason, I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about this use case.