Blue Button 2.0: Empowering Healthcare Decisions


Introduction and History

In today’s intricate healthcare landscape, access to accurate health information is crucial for making informed decisions. In this blog, we’ll delve into the transformative power of Blue Button. 

Blue Button is a groundbreaking solution that grants individuals control to their claims data.  

In 2010, the Markle Foundation Work Group on Consumer Engagement was looking to solve multiple challenges associated with patient engagement: numerous health IT data standards, data confidentiality and privacy laws, and proprietary health databases. HHS CTO and U.S. CTO Todd Park summed up the solution during The Workgroup Meeting as, “Look, there’s all this complicated stuff happening with health information. But why can’t we just do this: why can’t we just let an American get a copy of their own information? And don’t worry about the format, don’t worry about the standards.” 

Launched by CMS and VA in 2010 Blue Button, designed with patient-centricity in mind, Blue Button provides a centralized platform where individuals can obtain a holistic view of their medical history, laboratory results, medication records, and more.  

In January 2013, ONC unveiled the Blue Button+. Blue Button+ extended the Blue Button capabilities to follow a standardized data format. It also provided additional functionality for trusted, automated exchange of health data. The current version, the Blue Button 2.0 was issued in 2018, identifies the FHIR (Fast Health Interoperable Resources) standard for transmission of data. 

Blue Button 2.0 is not the only initiative that CMS has implemented to help provide increased access to healthcare data. Blue Button 2.0 provides FHIR-formatted data for one individual Medicare beneficiary at a time, to registered applications with beneficiary authorization. From a workflow standpoint, providers will encourage their patients to register with an application that they utilize, and the patient approve the sharing of their health data to that single application. In this instance, since it’s a patient-by-patient approach, most practices don’t have the staffing capabilities to encourage each of their patients to sign up and share data. While patients have access to their own data, which is definitely a step in the right direction, it is extremely helpful for providers to have access to that same information for care coordination purposes.  

CMS has developed two additional programs that allow the sharing of data in bulk: BCDA and Data at the Point of Care (DPC).  

BCDA provides FHIR-formatted bulk data files to Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organizations (MSSP ACOs) for all of the beneficiaries assigned to a given ACO. 

DPC provides FHIR-formatted bulk data files to fee-for-service providers for their active patients as needed for treatment purposes under HIPAA. With DPC, providers identify their own rosters of patients to track, and no action is required from the beneficiary to authorize sharing of data. Data is shared between covered entities for treatment purposes as defined under HIPAA. 

Both of these methods are significantly more practical for providers to receive data on their patients to improve care coordination. However, at this time, DPC has a significant back-log of organizations that would like to participate in this program.  


Blue Button, BCDA, and DPC are revolutionizing healthcare decisions, empowering individuals to take control and share data with their providers. By providing access to comprehensive health information, it is enhancing collaboration with providers and improving health outcomes. While there are limitations to all of these programs, AaNeel would encourage practices to build workflows to implement Blue Button 2.0, while they wait to receive access to DPC.