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September 10, 2010

A ’Blue Button’ for Health Data "In his talk, the President said that for the first time ever, veterans will be able to go to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, 'click a simple blue button, and download or print your personal health records so you have them when you need them, and can share them with your doctors outside of the VA.'

"And, similar plans are in the works for to offer it to Medicare beneficiaries, Markle noted. So why can't medical practices, hospitals, insurers, pharmacies, and laboratory services consider blue buttons as well for their websites as well?"

Comment: The beauty of the blue-button idea is that all difficulty of teaching patients how to download their records goes away. But developing a useful introduction and summary for patients from that data will not be simple at all. Guarding medical privacy is not easy, either. Yet the complexities are behind the scenes, for experts to deal with, and do not affect patients' ability to click the blue button and get their records.

The last sentence quoted above suggests what's still beyond the abilities of America's for-profit medical system: the ability to press one blue button and get all one's medical date from the various "medical practices, hospitals, insurers, pharmacies, and laboratory services" that have it.