Search all of the Society for Participatory Medicine website:Search

This weekend is momentous not only for the 2nd inauguration of the President. History will say the Veterans Health Administration is innovative, truly patient centered and even a bit risky. Today, VA patients can view, print and download ALL their health record data in their My HealtheVet personal health record. It’s the time when veterans can see clinic notes and test results – from their couch.

The full record data is available via the Blue Button. In 2010, the White House announced the Blue Button, lead by open data gurus Peter Levin, Todd Park and Aneesh Chopra. I tend to think of Blue Button as a door, allowing information to come out of a locked room (the record). Some think Blue Button means they get their entire record, but that’s not necessarily the case. It depends on how much the health system lets out.

The phenomenal thing about the VA is the sheer amount of information available:

  • VA Demographics
  • VA Problem List (active problems)
  • VA Admissions and Discharges (Discharge Summaries)
  • VA Notes (Progress Notes)
  • VA Laboratory Results: (adds Microbiology)
  • VA Vitals and Readings
  • VA Pathology Reports: (Surgical Pathology, Cytology, Electron Microscopy)
  • VA Radiology Reports
  • VA Electrocardiogram (EKG) Reports (list of studies)
  • VA Continuity of Care Document (CCD, standard sharable .xml file)

See that fourth bullet? Notes! Actual doctor notes! Game change! For patients, caregivers and for the healthcare team and administrators. VA joins the ranks of OpenNotes – frequently discussed on this blog and an essential movement to get us to New. Medicine. Now.

I haven’t looked under every rock, but I suspect VA becomes the system offering the greatest number of people the most complete access to their electronic record. Now, about 997,000 Veterans have capability to access all their data.

A million veteran march toward participatory care.

There’s more information about VA Blue Button on their website, and an example of text output (PDF posted soon). Many will say it’s text-heavy, confusing and not user-friendly. I say: the door is wide open, the room is filled, and we’re ready to design new ways to give consumers/patients their own health information in the most meaningful way.

On this lovely holiday weekend, the words of MLK ring true as applied to health care:

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Congratulations to all the VA staff, developers and leaders — for walking up those grand stairs.

Disclosure: views are solely the author’s and should not be attributed to any organization or agency.


Please consider supporting the Society by joining us today! Thank you.