What began as a simple way to help veterans view their personal health information over the Internet is continuing to snowball into an electronic health record phenomena known as the Blue Button, now used by more than a million patients nationally and gaining wider adoption by certain health care providers.

The Blue Button is a simple piece of software code that the Department of Veteran Affairs developed two years ago, that lets veterans obtain a copy of their medical information electronically.

VA and health industry officials are now exploring ways to expand its adoption, as well as the types of information patients can access.

At a recently concluded consumer health IT summit, Peter Levin, chief technology officer for the VA described how the Blue Button got started and the impact it has had since in serving veterans.

But he and Dr. Farzad Mostashari, who leads the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, also highlighted their vision to grow Blue Button’s user base from “from one million to 10 million to 100 million to the entire country.”

“We want to turn the Blue Button from a noun, to a verb,” said Levin, to a “thing that you do…when you see the Blue Button, you know…you’re going to get your health information.”

Mostashari said he expects immunization records to be accessible via Blue Button in the coming weeks.

But he and Levin said they hope to avoid having distinct types of records added individually.

“You don’t want to do this one at a time,” said Levin. “You’d like to have a methodical way, of not just (adding information) inside government, but most important of all, is doing it outside of government.”

Looking ahead, Mostashari said that it is also important to ensure two things happen:

“First, making the information more usable. But not only making sure that its always human readable, for the patient and the family to have immediate access to the information, but also making it machine readable so developers can develop new tools and services.”