Humetrix’s iBluttonButton app has gotten a lot of positive buzz recnetly. The app has won awards from the Office of National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT (as previously covered by iMedicalApps), Health 2.0 and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’s Co-Design Challenge, the 2013 Fierce Healthcare Innovation Award, and was featured at TEDMED.

Blue Button is a way for patients to download or receive updates to their health records. Started January 2014, the federal government now requires physicians and hospitals to provide Blue Button-compatible records.

Humetrix’s iBlueButton app allows users to download Blue Button health records and even x-ray images from Medicare, insurance companies and electronic medical record patient portals onto their Android and iOS devices. It also allows caregivers to manage records for themselves and family members, plus share Direct Address links — like an e-mail — to send patients updates to medical records.

Humetrix also has recently released ICEBlueButton, recently reviewed on iMedicalApps. This free app allows individuals to create emergency records on their phone from Blue Button records.

We recently had a chance to chat with Humetrix Executive Vice President Christopher Burrow MD to get some insights into designing patient-centered apps and the future of this tool.

iMedicalApps: What should physicians, residents, and healthcare providers know about your apps?

Burrow: We’ve created a secure mobile platform for point of care information exchange between physician and patient – it doesn’t depend on anything else. It only depends on having a smartphone, tablet, and downloading the app from either Google Play or iTunes. There’s no other thing for either a patient or physician to install or learn. In the ER, if your patient’s medical history is not available, just download this app – [that] is especially useful for Medicare patients!

iMedicalApps: How can you ensure the security of the platform? Can patients download their file, and edit it to make it look like they take commonly-abused drugs like oxycodone and lorazepam?

Burrow: When the iBlueButton app imports a file, it is securely stored on the patient’s device and the app then transmits the record to the physician’s iPad using a highly secure protocol. With this app, the patient can download the record, make annotations, add other records including images, add comments, but they cannot change downloaded EMR or payer data.

iMedicalApps: I see, and what kinds of things are you looking forward to in the future?

Burrow: We’re now working under contract with the State of California and San Diego Health Connect (the HIE for San Diego County) enabling UC San Diego physicians to send medical records to their patient’s iBlueButton app at the time of their visit. At the same time, we are working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enable Veterans to send a summary medical record from the MyHealtheVet portal to their own iBlueButton app. This will enable a veteran who gets care at UC San Diego (UCSD) and at the VA to get their records either from UCSD or the VA and transmit these to their doctor’s iPad. This will ensure that their up to date medical records will  available at the point of care.

For the future, we plan to build on this mobile strategy to not only enable physicians to more easily meet Meaningful Use requirements than can be done by relying on patient portals, but to also give patients the means to aggregate their medical information from multiple sources, and give caregivers the ability to keep track of multiple family members with iBlueButton. Ed note: Many of these features were included in the recent update noted above.

iMedicalApps: This is quite amazing and I can see how providers doing intakes would value this. How did you ultimately get involved with this project?

Burrow: After my chief residency at Johns Hopkins, I was an attending nephrologist for many years which, combined with my work in developing molecular diagnostics in the biotech industry, lit a fire about how software tools can be oriented to help physicians and patients to work together to define someone’s health or illness in quantitative terms.

Humetrix, which has long been a pioneer in the development of mobile solutions in healthcare, was ready to launch into the development of mobile healthcare apps at exactly the right time for me. This has given me the chance to get in at the start of what has turned out to be a very exciting opportunity with the Humetrix team to catalyze positive changes in our healthcare system which result from giving patients mobile apps like iBlueButton.

How to get iBlueButton

Get it at Google Play or the iOS App Store. The first download of any Blue Button health record is free.

Subsequent Blue Button record downloads are priced at:

  • 5 downloads–$1.99
  • 25 downloads–$7.99

Providers’ iBlueButton Professional iPad app is priced at $49.99 for doctors and hospitals. My HealtheVet Blue Button record downloads are free of charge to Veterans.

How to get ICEBlueButton

Get it at Google Play or the iOS App Store. The app is free. An upgrade of $2.99 per month is available for automatically sending alert emails to emergency contacts when a user’s QR code is scanned or unlimited alerts for $19.99.

Steven Chan, M.D., M.B.A., is a resident physician at the University of California, Davis Health System. He is researching psychiatry, telemedicine, mobile technology, & human behavior. Steve previously worked as a software and web engineer as well as creative designer at Microsoft & UC Berkeley. Visit him at and @StevenChanMD.