Blue Button

Nov 19, 2014 10:03:00 PM

Blue Button Your DataBB

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is supporting a new way of sharing secure healthcare information, and it's called Blue Button.  CareSync is committed to making health information easy to understand & share, and we are one of the first applications certified to make it a reality.

Blue Button Data Files

Part of the movement to give patients access to their medical data is the ability to download it.  Wherever you see the blue download icon pictured above, you have that right.  In order to make it possible to view the data and also transmit it to another system, there are two types of files created:

PDF: Human-Readable Format

Data that is ready to transmit to another system isn't easy to read, so a PDF copy is created to be opened and viewed by anyone who has been given access to the documents.  The PDFs are in a friendly view format and include the Health Summary, Timeline, Care Plan, and any attachments that are part of the transmission.

To view documents that end in .PDF, download the free Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.

XML: Machine-Readable Format

XML is the file type chosen by CMS for interoperability--transmitting data between systems.  The XML file should include important parts of your Health Summary and Care Plan, so that all your doctors have accurate, updated information:

  • Medications
  • Labs
  • Health Conditions (Problems)
  • Procedures
  • Allergies
  • Visit Data 
  • Care Plan (doctor's orders)

Additional documents pertaining to these items, including your Timeline, can be attached as PDF documents.


Using Blue Button

Wherever you see the Blue Button icon in CareSync, you have Blue Button data access options.  CareSync makes it easy to access & share your data using the three types outlined by Blue Button certification standards.


The download usually gives options for XML or PDF formats, as outlined above.  If you're sending to your doctor and you're not sure if he can use the XML file, we recommend that you send him both, so he can view the PDF and determine whether he will import the data files into his Electronic Medical Record (EMR).


Your provider can receive the data file into his EMR, or you may have another need for it. Your doctor will use Receive functionality to accept the Medications, Health Conditions, Care Plan, and other elements you choose to share. Additionally, CareSync will Receive files from your providers this way when your medical records are available for updates to CareSync.  It's more efficient, and you'll get your information much faster when we're able to use this technology.

Transmit/Direct Email
Available January 2015

The fax machine has long been the health industry's favorite piece of technology, and while HIPAA laws allow for email, it's not popular.  Risks of data exposure or important data being lost in cluttered email inboxes have prevented any modern communication.

Blue Button Direct is a secure email format that puts a handshake at both ends of the transmission (kind of like making sure the two parties are friends).  If the sender and receiver both have verified Blue Button direct addresses, the file can be transmitted. 

As we discover your providers' direct addresses, we'll add those to the Provider Additional Info section. If you know your provider's secure Blue Button direct address, you can add it, too. 

Like Download, the direct email will include the XML and PDF files requested. Like an email, there is a place to introduce the attachments. In CareSync, it will look and feel like Sharing by Fax.


Who Uses Blue Button?

CMS runs Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veteran's Administration system, so these were the first to adopt Blue Button. You can get your Medicare records now by logging into the Blue Button site. Most EMR systems have plans to make it available, if they haven't already.


What's Next?

CareSync is certified for Blue Button certification and will stay committed to our mission of making healthcare information accessible to everyone. 

Right now, Blue Button is available in the Health Summary and Timeline areas. This year we will make it available for single data files, such as Medications or Conditions. Look for the Blue Button icon as we add new options!



Platforms Available:  All Blue Button functions are available now on Web.  iOS downloads require 3rd-party apps, such as Dropbox, and we haven't made that available yet for security reasons. It's coming soon to Android.  

Need Help?  Remember CareSync Plus Specialists not only get the medical records, they create concise summaries of every visit, and enter all the data.  And they'll make your appointments for you, too!


Topics: Blue Button, chronic care management (CCM), Medicare, CareSync Care Plans

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