VA to offer $50K prize for boosting Blue Button PHR use

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The secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a competition under Section 105 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2011 to encourage widespread use of Blue Button personal health records (PHRs) to benefit veterans who receive care from non-VA providers. The competition began July 18 and ends when a winner is announced or on Oct. 18, whichever occurs first, according to the VA. The winner of the competition will receive $50,000.

Blue Button PHRs are currently used by more than 350,000 people, including 300,000 veterans who receive care through the VA health system to download, store or print, or share medical information with caregivers, stated a notice published in the Federal Register on July 18.

“VA believes Blue Button PHRs have now been sufficiently tested and proven useful to be made available for use [by] veterans who receive their care from non-VA facilities and providers and by the public generally,” the notice stated.

The competition aims to promote widespread installation and use of Blue Button PHRs via a simple internet-based application that allows physicians and other licensed clinical professionals (LCPs) to sponsor a Blue Button PHR and offer it to their patients.

The winner of the competition will be the first to document that it has:

  • It has created an internet-based application that allows clinicians to sponsor and offer to their patients, including veterans, a Blue Button PHR; and
  • The Blue Button PHR application has actually been installed on public-facing internet sites by 25,000 clinicians within the U.S. and is actually available for use by all patients of those LCPs, including veterans.

The application must be freely accessible to all patients of the LCP, including veterans, and it must be operable at the time of judging.

The Blue Button PHR application itself must:

  • Provide a simple, convenient and secure means for entering and storing personal health data and retrieving that data via download.
  • Support downloads in ASCII and PDF. The ASCII download format must be identical to and interoperable with the VA ASCII-based Blue Button text file format. Format information can be found here.
  • Be easily installed by LCPs and organizations and available to patients as an internet-based service.

The application must also comply with HIPAA requirements for access control, data integrity and transmission security.

If no single entrant meets the required criteria, VA may declare as winners up to 10 participants that have installed the Blue Button PHR application on the internet sites of 25,000 LCPs, according to the notice.

Click here for more information.