Currently, the Los Angeles unemployment rate stands at 11.1%; thus, many Angelenos are hurting for cash. How about a cash infusion of $50,000? The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced on July 19, 2011 that 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 the U.S. 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. The 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. The Department of Defense also provides Blue Button download capabilities to its TRICARE beneficiaries, and Medicare beneficiaries can download their claims histories using the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Blue Button functions.
Getting a low-cost user-friendly application into the hands of physicians is a key part of the competition, according to VA Chief Technology Officer Peter L. Levin. He noted, “Moving health data can and should be safe, simple and inexpensive. Blue Button technology is all of those things. Doctors who use PHRs developed as part of this competition can give their patients the ability to keep and control their own health data. Blue Button’s simple format can even support patient-authorized health data transfers to other doctors or hospitals.”
The Blue Button Prize Competition is a department-wide program that solicits the most promising innovations from VA employees, the private sector, non-profits, and academia to increase veterans’ access to VA services, improve the quality of services delivered, enhance the performance of VA operations, and delivering of those services more efficient. Through prize contests, private sector innovators help improve federal government operations and technology developed using tax dollars is made readily available to the public. Qualifying PHRs must be easily installed by physicians and other clinical professionals, must be readily available to all of the physicians’ patients, and must allow patients to download their data using VA’s Blue Button’s simple text-based format, which can be read and printed on any computer without using special software.
Click on this link for contest rules.
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