Patient Engagement Increases with Downloadable Health Records

Major pharmacy chains allow patients to access their prescription records while promoting personal control of health data.

The Blue Button Project is an online portal that allows Americans to download their electronic health records (EHR) to their computer, smartphone, thumb drive, or even receive a print copy.

This project was created to let patients easily manage their healthcare information and share it with their caregivers. The hope is that more patients will be able to improve their own healthcare through this project.

The Department of Veteran Affairs was the first organization to benefit from this project.

Currently, it allows veterans to download data such as insurance information, medications, allergies, and lab results.

A recent study found that veterans using the technology had better experiences, process of care, and health outcomes than those not using the technology.

In 2011, the Blue Button project was expanded when ONC launched the Consumer e-Health and Empowerment Pledge Community Program, including more than 500 organizations also wishing to expand the project.

Similarly, the Blue Button Connector was launched in 2014 and helps patients reach their health information, while ithelps developers create tools for market needs and readiness. Creators hope that this will help patients, as well as raise awareness about EHRs.

Also in 2014, 5 major pharmacy chains joined the project and now enable patients to access their prescription records, while also promoting personal control of health data.

Most Americans already manage their finances and other important information electronically and this project allows healthcare to be managed similarly, as well.

Patients will also find that information will not be lost and tests will not likely have to be repeated due to a result that is not accessible.

This project also can prompt patients to follow-up with healthcare providers about test results, leading to better management of conditions.

The project has gained support from 46 insurers, technology companies, healthcare providers, and consumer advocacy groups, as well.

Though the project has led to significant advancements, further research is needed in order to link the technology and better healthcare outcomes.