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Leading Pharmacies and Retailers Join the Blue Button Initiative, Making Personal Prescription Histories Securely and Easily Acc

Posted Dec 19 2013 2:26pm

Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced that several of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains—including Walgreens, CVS Caremark, Rite Aid, and Safeway—have committed to provide their customers with secure, online access to their prescription information as part of the “Blue Button” initiative. As a result of this expanded access to data via Blue Button, it will be easier for millions of Americans to manage their medications and take a more active role in their health, at the same time fueling the growth of an industry of private-sector applications and services.

The Blue Button initiative­­ is a public-private partnership between the health care industry and the Federal Government.  To date, more than 500 private-sector companies and organizations have pledged their support to increase patient access to and use of their own health data as a way to empower patients and consumers to better manage their health.

Blue Button was launched in 2010 by the Department of Veterans Affairs, with the support of the Office of the US Chief Technology Officer, to give veterans the ability to access and download their medical records from an online patient portal. Since its launch, the initiative has expanded and now provides more than 100 million Americans electronic access to their personal health information from a variety of sources, including healthcare providers, healthcare insurance companies, medical labs, and state health information networks.  To date, more than 1.5 million veterans have downloaded their “Blue Button” information.

Today, the following retail pharmacy companies and associations announced the following commitments to the Blue Button initiative:

  • CVS Caremark has committed to signing the Blue Button pledge and providing its customers with the ability to securely access and download their medication lists and prescription history, and refill prescriptions through CVS Pharmacy’s online portal.
  • Walgreens, one of the first retail pharmacy chains to enable its customers to access and download their prescription history through its Blue Button branded online portal, has committed to continuing to expand access to its growing customer base.
  •  Safeway has pledged to support the Blue Button initiative by enabling its customers to electronically access their prescription history and pharmacy data.
  • Rite Aid currently provides its customers with electronic access to their individual prescription history, tools to better manage their prescriptions, and medication management reminders via phone, email or text message. As a Blue Button Pledge supporter, Rite Aid is committed to continuing to improve patient engagement and empowerment through expanded access to data and an evolving set of online service capabilities.  
  • National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has pledged its commitment to support Blue Button and to help advance the interests and objectives of the chain community pharmacy industry, by fostering its growth and promoting its role as a provider of healthcare services and consumer products.
  • Pharmacy Health IT Collaborative: represents nine national pharmacy professional associations: representing more than 250,000 members in support of Health IT and has committed to advocate for promotion of Blue Button amongst its members.  The founding members are the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), American Pharmacists Association (APhA), American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), American Society of Health-system Pharmacists (ASHP), National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA), National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)
  • National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA)—which promotes leadership, sharing, learning, and policy exchange among state pharmacy associations and pharmacy leaders nationwide, and provides education and advocacy to support pharmacists, patients, and communities working together to improve public health—has committed to promoting electronic access to pharmacy health records.

Today’s announcement is good news for all Americans and an important first step by the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains and related associations to join the ranks in support of the Blue Button initiative and to empower consumers to take a more active role in managing their own health and healthcare. Easy and secure access to their personal pharmacy prescription history can allow patients to check their prescription history for accuracy, access medication lists from multiple doctors, securely share this information with healthcare providers, and use a growing number of services and tools designed to help manage their health and wellness. With the addition of standard formats and the ability to securely transmit this information, Americans will be able to use their pharmacy records with new innovative software applications and services that can improve medication adherence, reduce dosing errors, and prevent adverse drug interactions.

Among other Blue Button leaders are the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), through which several years’ worth of claims data are available to 49 million Medicare beneficiaries. The availability of Blue Button functionality is expected to continue to accelerate in the coming year, particularly through the federal “Meaningful Use” program, which provides incentives for eligible doctors and hospitals to adopt health information technology, and requires that consumers have electronic access to their health data. Furthermore, recent modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule that went into effect in September 2013, expand individual rights by clarifying that patients can ask for a copy of their medical record in an electronic form.

The Blue Button logo is becoming an increasingly recognizable symbol for patient access to health data and a broader movement in support of consumer empowerment in health and healthcare.  This movement, fueled in part by the proliferation of mobile phones, apps, and consumer health and fitness devices, is enabling consumers to collect, analyze, use and share information related to health as never before. This trend is encouraging given the fact that most health outcomes are influenced more by the actions and choices of consumers, patients, and families than by any other factor.

The Blue Button initiative is led by the ONC, and is also a key part of the White House’s MyData initiative, which aims to empower individuals with secure access to their personal healthcare data, academic and student loan data, and energy consumption data in easy-to-use, digital format.

For more information about Blue Button, please visit:

The post Leading Pharmacies and Retailers Join the Blue Button Initiative, Making Personal Prescription Histories Securely and Easily Accessible to Millions of Americans appeared first on Health IT Buzz .

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