The VA’s Blue Button: A Giant Leap for EHRs?

Photo: VA

Remember healthcare IT?

One of the early tentpole initiatives of the Obama administration and a focus of the stimulus package, healthcare IT, and electronic health records in particular, took a back seat to big ticket debates on healthcare reform, unemployment and tax cuts.

In October, the Veterans Administration rolled out the “Blue Button” initiative, a program that allow veterans to download their personal health records into a document form with the simple press of a (blue) button.

The program represents fairly sizable move forward for EHRs and healthcare IT as a whole and could signal a sign of things to come beyond the VA.

However, security remains a chief concern for project, as is the case with any healthcare IT program that handles large amounts of personal health data.

Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra, HHS CTO Todd Park and VA CTO Peter Levin addressed the issue in a statement that accompanied the initiative’s rollout.

“In developing this opportunity, VA and CMS both stress the importance to users of protecting the electronic information on their personal computers with appropriate security measures, ” the statement reads. “Once individuals download their data, they will need to ensure its safety—for example, by encryption or password protection.”

Time will tell how easily the program can be secured, but the blue button should signal a good deal of green for government contractors invested in healthcare IT.

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