Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0 has recently been developed as an enhancement of the current Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) Blue Button service. This new Application Programming Interface (API) will allow Medicare beneficiaries to connect their health data to the mobile applications or services that they trust. It will also open opportunities for medtech companies to access four years of Medicare data and create relevant mobile apps.

In October 2018, eClinicalWorks, a player in healthcare IT solutions, became one of the first Electronic Health Record (EHR) companies to be approved and to integrate with the CMS Blue Button 2.0 API.

Last week, two Republican representatives introduced the Mobile Health Record Act of 2018, a bill that would instruct the CMS to more heavily promote the Blue Button 2.0 mobile health platform to all Medicare beneficiaries and make them aware that they have the ability to download their personal health information.

Blue Button 2.0 contains four years of Medicare Part A, B, and D data for 53 million Medicare beneficiaries, including prescriptions, insurance coverage, primary care treatment, and cost. Patients would not only gain access to their own data, but would also have full control over how this data can be used and by whom.

The aforementioned bill will also instruct the CMS to develop more mHealth apps. A CMS spokesperson said that the agency currently has 16 mHealth apps under production on the Blue Button 2.0 API, but no publication date has been set yet.

EHR companies, such as Epic, Allscripts, and Cerner, are starting to work with third-party app developers so that consumers can access their health data on their mobile phones. More than 700 app developers have signed up to use Blue Button 2.0, including tech giants such as Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Oracle. Back in August, these largest six tech companies signed a pledge to speed up the progress of health data standards and interoperability. This will break down barriers between chunks of big data and help compile extremely large data sets, allowing extensive machine learning to boost AI effectiveness and revolutionize healthcare systems.

In addition, some of the Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) companies, like Humetrix, are already taking advantage of Blue Button 2.0 data. Humetrix launched the iBlueButton app that allows users to extract, receive, and aggregate payer claims and Blue Button 2.0 data.

Access to prescription history and other healthcare information will, on the one hand, further empower patients, strengthen their role in decision-making, and ultimately lead to better patient care. On the other hand, it will help tech companies develop better algorithms to speed up diagnosis and treatment at a lower cost.