Thoughts on Blue Button: 6 Reasons Why It Lacks Adoption, and Its Troubled Future

Tyler Hayes
Tyler Hayes

Guest post by Tyler Hayes is co-founder and CEO of Prime, the personal social network for your health.

Despite numbers the VA and ONC have shared, Blue Button is effectively not being used. Consumers haven’t heard of it. Developers aren’t implementing it. It’s not blossoming into what it can and should be.

This is happening for several reasons. I’d like to share some brief thoughts on our industry’s relationship with Blue Button, why it lacks adoption, and its currently troubled future.

First, there’s its identity crisis.

Blue Button is not the same as Blue Button+. Blue Button+ is Blue Button on steroids. That’s a good thing. But Blue Button+ is really two things, which makes it more confusing. That’s a bad thing. Blue Button+ is really Blue Button+ Push and Blue Button+ Pull. I hear the former may be renamed to Blue Button+ Direct and the latter to Blue Button+ REST API. Thoughts on the names aside, this is again more room for confusion.

This confusion, just from these few terms, is turning developers off from adopting Blue Button. When developers are confused, you can guarantee consumers are confused. We’ve seen both first hand in non-trivial amounts. That’s very bad.

From this point forward, I’m going to refer to all of these as just one whole: Blue Button. To do otherwise is to descend into madness. This is how Blue Button should exist right now anyway.

Second: Fragmentation.

Even if Blue Button were to fix its identity crisis, it would still suffer from fragmentation of resources like documentation and community efforts.

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