One of my favorite bloggers is John Lynn. He and Andrew Sullivan are the only blog treats I give myself on my “try to disconnect” weekends. This weekend, John wrote a great post about the Department of Veterans Affair’s Blue Button. In his friendly and direct way, John highlights the success of the program.
“What great news that we got this month about the Blue Button having 1 million users. That’s a big number for what really amounts to a rather simple idea. The idea being that when you click on a simple blue button you can download you patient record.“
Simple ideas that work are hard to create and don’t come along often, but when they hit society at large, they shift our perspectives and create new normals. Next day shipping. pizza delivery in 30 minutes or less (one of my faves…). The “Like” button. The Blue Button gets my vote for consideration to the list.
Peter Levin, the VA’s Chief Technology Officer, describes in an interview with Federal News Radio the culture change he has seen as the program succeeds.
“It was a big step in terms of attitude,” he said. “Providers now understand that it’s OK to make that data available, and patients now understand it’s OK to get that data. Both parties now understand in that conversation that they should be talking.”
Our troops in harm’s way have received unprecedented battlefield care. According to Matthew S. Goldberg, PhD in his April 2010 paper “Death and Injury Rates of U.S. Military Personnel in Iraq,”casualty rates have been much lower during the Iraq war than they were in Vietnam, when the total death rate was 5.4 times as high and the total wounded in action rate was 3.7 times as high.
Goldberg states in January 2007, the wounded-to-fatality counts in Iraq stood at a ratio of 7.6 to 1. That ratio is higher than during earlier U.S. military conflicts, such as the ratio of 5.2 for Vietnam.
The paradox is that the lifesaving care soldiers receive on the battlefield is the start of new and complex long-term care needs for those battlefield injuries, both visible and not. The ability for veterans to take advantage of the benefits of the Blue Button is exciting in an age of new competition and business models in the healthcare industry at large.
At the upcoming HIMSS GHIT Virtual Briefing “Health IT & Policy Driven Healthcare Transformation,” HIMSS Community All-Star Judy Murphy and her colleague Lygeia Ricciardi will be discussing how:
- new healthcare reform is transforming the way patients and providers communicate with one another, and
- the effect this will have on the care they receive.
The vision we all share within the HIMSS community, for the optimal use of information technology and management systems for the betterment of healthcare, is a vision that does not lack in complexity. Successful, simple ideas, like the VA’s Blue Button, provide best practices for all of us to explore, as we work towards improved quality, improved safety, increased cost-effectiveness, and increased access to care.