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Institute for Population Health Improvement

Institute for Population Health Improvement

NEWS | November 18, 2013

Institute for Population Health Improvement funds state’s first "Blue Button" project for Medi‑Cal

Patients to have online access to their prescription data for improved patient safety.

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.)

As part of its mission to accelerate the adoption of health information exchange throughout California, the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement’s California Health eQuality program awarded $400,000 to L.A. Care, the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan, to develop Blue Button functionality.

Blue Button will allow L.A. Care members to access their own prescription data online. The project is the first in California and among the first in the nation to develop the tool for Medicaid beneficiaries.

L.A. Care offers free or low-cost health insurance programs to more than one million Los Angeles County residents, giving members access to more than 10,000 physicians, specialists, hospitals and pharmacies.

The Blue Button initiative is a Web-based feature that allows patients to easily view and download their health information and share it with health care providers and caregivers. The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs initiated Blue Button in 2010. In 2012, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology began encouraging its broader use.  

“Having a list of medications available through the Blue Button will help L.A. Care members take an active role in managing their care, increase effective communication with their providers and avoid potential prescription errors,” said Kenneth W. Kizer, distinguished professor and director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis. “The lessons learned from this project can serve as a model for all managed care health plans in the state to adopt the same Blue Button functionality to improve patients’ access to their data.”

L.A. Care expects to begin extending the Blue Button service to Medi-Cal Managed Care beneficiaries by early 2014.

“For underserved and disadvantaged populations, the availability of online medical information resources significantly lags behind those offered to commercial insurance and Medicare patients, limiting their ability to participate in their own care,” said Trudi Carter, chief medical officer for L.A. Care Health Plan. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to bring Blue Button to those vulnerable L.A. County residents, who can now get more involved in the management of their conditions and share their information with their providers and caregivers.”

The UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement is working to align the many determinants of health to promote and sustain the well-being of both individuals and their communities. Established in 2011, the institute is leading an array of initiatives, from improving health-care quality and health information exchange to advancing surveillance and prevention programs for heart disease and cancer.

L.A. Care Health Plan (Local Initiative Health Authority of Los Angeles County) is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of programs including L.A. Care Covered™Medi-Cal, L.A. Care’s Healthy Kids, L.A. Care Health Plan Medicare Advantage HMO and PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With more than one million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.