This article was written on 31 Oct 2013, and is filled under Volume 17 Number 3.

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The Blue Button Movement and Rural Consumer/Patient Access to and Engagement with Healthcare Portals

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The Frontier: Floating in the Cloud and Networking in an Internet Connected World Column

by Kay Sackett, DNS, RN

Senior Editor


Sackett, K. (2013). The Blue Button Movement and Rural Consumer/Patient Access to and Engagement with Healthcare Portals. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 17 (3), Available at  http://ojni.org/issues/?p= 2841


sackettThe last several editorials I’ve written have focused on various facets of EHRs and rural or mHealth. This editorial will take yet another twist, “The Blue Button” initiative. For those of you interested in a brief history of the Blue Button movement, I’ve provided two URLs of interest:

Health IT Buzz


Blue Button


Blue ButtonI recently attended the 2013 Consumer Health IT Summit in Washington, DC hosted by The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The focus of the one-day conference was accelerating the Blue Button movement; or, in my own words, promoting consumer/patient access to and engagement with healthcare portals.

The morning topics presented included an overview of the current status  of the Blue Button and Blue Button+ initiatives, a patient’s perspective on how far we’ve come, the foundation of health care transformation is based on consumer/patient engagement, Federal strategies for engaging consumers/patients, what are our rights and protections under HIPAA, a look at Blue Button implementation from the Federal perspective, Blue Button and the bigger picture, a discussion about how consumers/patients access their healthcare data, a discussion about consumer attitudes and awareness, who won the Blue Button Co-Design Challenge, a discussion about the business case for investing in eHealth, and some closing thoughts completed the first portion of the conference. Three YouTube videos about the conference and a set of government guideline are provided for your viewing pleasure.  Check them out:

Investing in eHealth

Blue Button Design Winners

Consumer Access to Data

The three original afternoon breakout sessions were of interest. Participants had the opportunity to engage in small group discussions about outreach and awareness of consumers, building platforms for developers, and, promising practices for providers implementing Blue Button.  However, a fourth, and new breakout session was added titled “Rural Health and Chronic Care.”  I was one of 15 participants selected to participate in this focus group discussion.  What an opportunity!

The agenda for the fourth breakout session “Rural Health and Chronic Care” included introductions, discussion volunteer criteria, a project description, an opportunity to view the “Health IT for You” video (see below) and two case studies focused on Today and The Future, a discussion and summery. The goals of the focus group were to capture consumer/patient and provider attitudes and opinions about rural care coordination for chronic illness, attain opinions and attitudes on the potential role of consumer health information. I’ve added another option of my own, the option to research the access and engagement of rural consumer/patients who use healthcare portals to manage their personal healthcare. Here’s hoping I can refocus my research on EHR adoption to include rural consumer/patient access to and engagement with healthcare portals!



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