The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is embracing innovation and taking advantage of technology to fuel changes that will lead to better care, smarter spending and a healthier America. That was the key message from the second annual CMS IT Conference held in Baltimore in August. The conference brought together U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS IT leaders, as well CMS Blue Buttonas industry partners, to discuss the agency’s strategic vision for the future of health IT.

These overarching themes were exemplified in a discussion about CMS’ efforts to enhance its Blue Button service. Blue Button was started in 2010 to give Medicare consumers the ability to easily download up to three years of health data from patient portals and other secure websites, such as Since launching the service, nearly 1.5 million beneficiaries have downloaded their CMS health data.

But despite these successes, beneficiaries have lacked a way to put their health data to use. This led CMS to look for ways to make Blue Button a better, more functional tool for the Medicare community. What they found was that several third-party applications—like those downloaded to a smartphone—were already allowing Medicare consumers to give the application access to their health data. To do so, however, the application needed to borrow user IDs and passwords, creating potential security vulnerabilities.

Recognizing an opportunity, CMS sought to build a new Blue Button Application Program Interface (API) that will allow Medicare consumerts to connect and share their health data to the applications, services and research programs that they trust.

The enhanced Blue Button API, set to launch in 2017, will help empower patients to use their health data in new and exciting ways. It will give patients an enhanced view of their personal health records and allow them to securely share that data with third-party applications; it will enable them to share their health information with critical research programs and it will help increase care coordination by giving providers and caregivers better access to patient data.

Click here to learn more and stay up-to-date about the changes coming to Blue Button.

Source: QIO News publication; September 2016