Study: Low Awareness, Usability Limit Veterans' Blue Button Adoption

Veterans' adoption of the Blue Button tool to access their health information through the Department of Veterans Affairs' personal health record portal is lagging, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, FierceEMR reports (Durben-Hirsch, FierceEMR, 4/23).


In 2010, VA launched the Blue Button tool to help veterans access and exchange their personal health data in a standard, consistent manner. Since then, other private and federal agencies have implemented the tool (iHealthBeat, 2/10).

Study Details

For the study, researchers surveyed a 4% random sample of users of My HealtheVet, VA's PHR portal, over a two-month period in 2012 to examine the adoption and use rates of the Blue Button feature (Turvey et al, JAMIA, 4/16).

The study found that just 33% of respondents were Blue Button users. Among Blue Button users, 73% said the greatest benefit of the tool was having all of their medical records in one place, giving them a better understanding of their medical history. 

Meanwhile, 20% of the Blue Button users surveyed shared their data with a non-VA provider. Of those, 87% reported that the information was somewhat or very helpful to their external provider (FierceEMR, 4/23).

Survey respondents said their ability to use a computer was the strongest factor contributing to both their use of the feature and to sharing information with their non-VA providers (JAMIA, 4/16).

The survey showed the biggest barriers to Blue Button adoption were:

  • Low awareness; and
  • Difficulty using the feature.

The study authors recommended that VA boost educational efforts about the Blue Button feature and address usability issues (FierceEMR, 4/23).

Source: iHealthBeat, Thursday, April 24, 2014

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