Industry players join Blue Button initiative

WASHINGTON — Several retail pharmacy chains and associations are pledging their support of the Blue Button Initiative — a public-private partnership between the healthcare industry and the federal government that aims to empower all Americans with access to their own electronic health information, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy have announced.

The concept behind Blue Button: Consumers should be able to securely access their own health information and share it with healthcare providers, caregivers and others they trust.

In 2010, with the support of the White House, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs launched the Blue Button initiative to give veterans the ability to access and download their health records on a secure, online patient portal. Since then, the initiative has expanded and more than 150 million Americans are able to use Blue Button-enabled tools to access their own health information from a variety of sources including healthcare providers, health insurance companies, medical labs and state health information networks.

Committing to work over the next year toward standardizing patient prescription information to fuel the growth of private-sector applications and services:

  • Walgreens, which currently provides its customers with the ability to view and download their prescription history from a Blue Button-branded online portal, plans to adopt BlueButton+ guidelines to make it easier for customers to easily and securely share their data with others, including third-party applications to help people better manage their health and coordinate their healthcare. Walgreens also recently announced a new partnership with the VA which gives veterans convenient, online access to a broader set of personal health data, including immunization records; 
  • Kroger, which provides approximately half of its customers access to their own pharmacy records through a secure online portal, will be launching a secure portal for the remainder of its stores, many of which operate under local banner names — including Smiths and Fry’s — in addition to developing new functionality that will enable all of its customers to download a copy of their records, and is exploring plans to provide customers with a machine-readable copy of their records that can be shared and uploaded into third-party applications and services;
  • CVS Caremark currently provides its customers with the ability to securely access and download their medication lists and prescription history, as well as refill prescriptions through its various online portals, including CVS.com and Caremark.com;
  • Rite Aid, through its MyPharmacy online portal, currently provides its customers with electronic access to their own prescription history, tools to better manage their prescriptions and medication management reminders via phone, email or text message. Rite Aid has committed to improving patient engagement and empowerment through expanded access to their own health data and an evolving set of online service capabilities;
  • Safeway, one of the newest members of the Blue Button community, is committing to enable its customers to securely access and share their own electronic pharmacy records;
  • National Association Chain Drug Stores, which represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchants with pharmacies. Chains operate more than 41,000 pharmacies and employ more than 3.8 million employees, including 132,000 pharmacists;
  • Pharmacy Health IT Collaborative, which represents nine national pharmacy professional associations representing more than 250,000 members; and
  • National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, which promotes leadership, sharing, learning and policy exchange among state pharmacy associations and pharmacy leaders nationwide.

 

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