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Blue Button Gives EHR Portability to Military and VA Patients

by Atif Aleemi, VP of Government Solutions

In case you haven’t heard of it, Blue Button® is the branded term for providing health care record portability for veterans, military members and their families.

In August 2010, President Obama announced this initiative to an audience of veterans and others, telling them the government will offer an "electronic record that our troops and veterans can keep for life” that is easily accessed by clicking on an actual blue button on the Department of Veterans Affairs website. Now patients with HealtheVet and TRICARE can download their information into a text file and provide that health record to caregivers outside the VA and Department of Defense (DoD) health system.

On hearing the news, the crowd of veterans supplied the Commander-in-Chief with enthusiastic applause

In our October release of updates to athenahealth services, we enabled the functionality to allow these same patients to provide their Blue Button health information to our physicians. Now when patients are referred to a doctor who uses our EHR service in conjunction with athenaCommunicator, our patient communication service, the portable record can be attached to their patient chart in the athenahealth network by uploading it into our EHR, athenaClinicals.

This is a big deal because more than 50% of VA and DoD health care is provided by private physicians through referrals. Many of these referrals are treated by the more than 31,000 providers using our services. With the Blue Button capability, veterans and military families have a powerful tool to better manage their own health. And now we’re happy to say athenahealth providers will have access to a complete patient medical record to improve the delivery of health care for veterans, troops and their families.

athenahealth is exploring additional ways of exchanging data with the VA and DoD. Watch this space for more information in the coming year. This is all part of our vision of building the nation’s health information backbone.

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