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Blue Button competition: more serious innovation from Veterans Affairs

Over the last two years or so, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been doing some seriously innovative work on behalf of the troops. I've seen this first hand, focusing on efforts like working at the grassroots worker level and with private industry vendors. This really does serve vets better, and looks like taxpayers get better return for tax dollars.

VA is also using social media to help vets understand how VA can help, in forms including the VA blog, and outreach via social media including Facebook.

They keep doing serious stuff, have just announced a competition to get the vets' Blue Button installed on doctors systems. The Blue Button works with a vet's health records, and the competition is about building personal health records and getting them installed in doctors' systems.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today it is offering a $50,000 prize to the first team that builds a personal health record (PHR) using the Blue Button? download format, and arranges to install the PHR on the websites of 25,000 physicians across America. Sponsored by the VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2), the Blue Button Prize Competition is open to all U.S. organizations and individuals. The contest starts on July 18.

“Over six million Veterans who receive health care from VA can already download their personal health data using the Blue Button,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “We want to be sure the 17 million Veterans who receive care from non-VA doctors and hospitals can do the same.”

VA first offered Blue Button downloads through its My HealtheVet website in August, 2010; since then nearly 300,000 Veterans have downloaded their PHR data, including upcoming appointments at a VA Medical Center, medications, allergies, health reminders and, in a recent upgrade, their laboratory results.

This is for real, with the VA moving ahead fast to better serve the troops, who've more than earned it.

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