In Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government, Gavin Newsom, California Lieutenant Governor and former mayor of San Francisco, describes the benefits of the Blue Button and how it became a model for consumers to benefit from access to their own information. He writes:
“The VA’s Blue Button became a springboard, with others jumping in when they saw how successful it was. And this was the case not only with new Blue Buttons, but also with new apps that worked with Blue Buttons.”
Conceived at a January 2010 Markle meeting, the Blue Button concept—which allows patients to securely view and download their personal health information—has since evolved dramatically. Newsom notes that many diverse agencies and companies currently offer the Blue Button, while others are creating new applications to help consumers make better use of their own Blue Button data.
Markle has pursued enabling individuals to view and download personal health information from their computers and mobile devices as an initial step toward realizing the full potential of information access in health care. Although preliminary, this move represents a big change in current practice. It also supports further innovations and services that help individuals benefit from access to and use of their own information.
Indeed, this simple, but powerful idea is growing beyond patient health data. The Green Button is an online tool that allows electricity customers to securely download their own detailed data on energy usage from their utility’s website. The Department of Education, in conjunction with high school and higher education groups, plans to implement a Purple Button for secure online access to view and download various categories of education information.
More information on the Blue Button and the download capability: