UnitedHealthcare has adopted the VA's Blue Button technology to allow about 20 million people to download personal health records from the insurance carrier's Website.
UnitedHealthcare is easing patient access to
personal health records (PHRs) by rolling out the federal government's Blue
Button Web tool.
The Obama administration announced
the Blue Button initiative
in 2010. Developed by the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs and Department of Health and Human Services, the technology
allows patients, or consumers, to download their personal health data as a PDF
or text file.
UnitedHealthcare announced it would use Blue
Button in September 2011 and officially launched its implementation on July 5,
"Blue Button is a new, convenient way
people can access their health records securely and easily with just a single
click," Karl Ulfers, vice president of consumer solutions for
UnitedHealthcare, said in a statement. "This technology encourages people
to update their personal health records as well as print them, so they can take
their records with them and discuss their health and treatments with their
Patients maintain control over where their
medical data flows into, according to UnitedHealthcare.
Since the administration implemented Blue
Button, more than a half million veterans and Medicare members have been downloading
PHRs using the tool, Veterans Affairs CIO Roger Baker said in a statement.
About 75 million people will access their PHRs
using Blue Button by the end of this year, according to Baker.
"We're getting a lot of adoption by
private-sector organizations," said Baker.
A PHR contains information on a patient's
vital signs, health risk assessments, lab tests, medical history and family
health history. It also includes claims data.
In addition, the patient records store
information on allergies, allergic reaction episodes as well as upcoming doctors'
Other PHRs include Microsoft's
and MMRGlobal's MyMedicalRecords.
The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC)
of Health IT in HHS has implemented a Blue Button Mash-Up Challenge to
encourage companies to integrate the Blue Button tool with actual clinical data
from physician-managed electronic health records (EHRs), in which doctors input
data on medical conditions and medications.
UnitedHealthcare will eventually integrate
its PHRs with EHRs in the cloud, the company reported.
By adding the Blue Button icon to its Myuhc.com customer Website
UnitedHealthcare members will be able to store their health records locally in
a PDF or text format or print them.
UnitedHealthcare also offers a mobile Web
version of Myuhc.com. The insurance carrier began its Blue Button rollout for
500,000 Health Plan of Nevada members in March.
It plans to roll out the Blue Button tool to
more than 12 million participants by the end of 2012 and all 26 million
UnitedHealthcare members by mid-2013, the company reported.
The VA has implemented the Blue Button tool
into the My HealtheVet
PHRs for veterans, active service members, their dependents and caregivers.
"Blue Button puts patients in charge of
their personal health information. It is central to our vision of
patient-centered clinical encounters," Peter L. Levin, chief technology
officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said in a statement. "With
Blue Button the government created a framework that offers patients private and
secure access to their data, and is a model for the private sector."