The Department of Health and Human Services launched Feb. 24 an early-release version of the Blue Button Connector at the HIMSS conference in Orlando, Fla.
The website will be used by members of the Blue Button community before it is opened to all consumers and developers as a means of ironing out kinks in the process, according to a press release from the Office of the National Coordinator.
The Connector is a website that helps patients find their health information online in a single place. It is part of the Blue Button initiative, which allows patients download, transmit and view their medical records.
“The Connector will help consumers to navigate within a fragmented industry and raises general awareness about the growing availability of electronic access to health data,” Lygeia Ricciardi, director of consumer e-health at ONC, and Adam Dole, a presidential innovation fellow, said in a joint statement. “The site also enables consumers to ‘shop with their feet’ – to find providers and others who are offering electronic access to data.”
HHS also made part of the Connector’s data open for use by developers through an API.
“The Connector is the first-ever open data source delivered through an open API that makes transparent the health data that is increasingly available to the public, which we believe will help to fuel the creation of new products and services,” Dole and Ricciardi said in the statement.
Currently, about half of all Americans are able to access their medical records online through health care providers, insurance companies, labs and state immunization registries, according to the release.
On Feb. 7, several of the largest pharmacy chains in the United States pledged their support for the Blue Button initiative.
HHS previously released Blue Button+, a collaboration of more than 70 organizations, as a guideline to help providers structure their data in standardized machine-readable formats.
According to Dole, Americans should expect to see a more rapid adoption of Blue Button over the next 18 months.