10/07/2010 11:20 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Helping veterans get health records online even better

Okay, the deal is that the Department of Veterans Affairs makes vets' electronic health records available via a simple download, using their "blue button" application on

That's a big deal for vets, improving medical care, decreasing costs. (I'd sure like to have that available myself.)

Next step involves people building applications making these records really easy to use by vets, in a way that includes new medical info safely. (Security and privacy is a big deal!)

Turns out that the Markle Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio just ran a contest where people proposed applications which do just that with the VA data. (I played a very minor role.)

The winner is an Adobe application.

Here's the deal as the Markle and VA folks say:

The foundations sponsored the Blue Button Developer Challenge to stimulate innovation and

encourage doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, insurers, and personal health information services

to provide let their customers securely with a blue button to download their medical information


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicare have led the way by preparing to offer a blue button on their password-protected online portals to give veterans and beneficiaries the option of downloading copies of their medical or claims information. The VA has already made the blue button available at its site.

Adobe demonstrated an application and a security-enabled PDF document for patients to store

their downloads and share them with providers.