Health 2.0 Company Launch Review Part 4

The Blue Button project is an effort to allow easier access to personal health data for veterans and Medicare beneficiaries by allowing patients in these systems to download and print their medical history. In practice, the project involves a simple blue button that appears on secure Veterans Affairs (VA) and Medicare web portals. Clicking on the button gives patients access to their records. They can then share these health care documents with providers or others willing to help the patient navigate their care.

This project is related to a larger movement aimed at encouraging public access to government health care data. Park dubbed this movement, data "Liberación," though the HHS website officially calls it the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI). According to the site, CHDI "is a major new public-private effort that aims to help Americans understand health and health care performance in their communities -- and to help spark and facilitate action to improve performance." "It's your data anyway," Park quipped at Health 2.0 SF.

Specifically, Park's Liberación efforts will include release of structured (meaning variables will be standardized and easily searched), de-identified (meaning no names will be attached) HHS data without intellectual property or other restrictions. Additionally, the government will provide support for entrepreneurs aiming to use the data for public benefit and they aim to have 100 organizations working on projects such as viral health games, health map "mash ups," and networking applications by June 2011.

With the Blue Button project and the CHDI, Park and his buddies are helping move America's health information technology infrastructure forward. Not only are they helping Americans in Medicare and the VA become comfortable with the idea of digital health data, they are also lowering the bar for innovators hoping to improve the health care system. Entrepreneurs will have free access to rich data that will help them build new products and services for confused and increasingly cost-sensitive patients.

More info about the Blue Button initiative can be found at the White House blog post from Oct 7.

More info about CHDI is at hhs(dot)gov

This is the fourth post in a series on Health 2.0 SF. Check out the previous introducing the Blue Button project here, and two posts on a new Dr. Oz-endorsed health care web portal here and here.

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