When Blue Button Helped Save My Mother’s Life! – a real story
August 2, 2019
By Bettina Experton, MD, MPH, CEO of Humetrix

It was the morning of Friday July 19, happily catching up with my team at our Humetrix headquarters office in the beautiful city of Del Mar, California. It was wonderful to be back home as I had been on the road traveling for the last three weeks from Washington, DC for meetings on Capitol Hill, to New York for the Forbes Women Summit, to another extraordinary CEO Summit of the Consumer Technology Association (the CTA, organizer of the famous CES, where I am privileged to sit on their Board of Industry Leaders) in the beautiful city of Prague. The phone rang – it was Mom calling from France and it was the type of call I dreaded to ever receive.

A couple of weeks earlier while I was in Europe, I went to see my mother who had just settled for the summer in her home in the French Alps, traveling from California which is now home for her in my house in Del Mar since my Dad passed away seven years ago. She loves to visit her old house but is even happier in her new Del Mar home, escaping rough winters where she can get snowed in her isolated house in the Alps. She also loves America and the energetic and entrepreneurial American way her French-American daughter adopted long ago! In California, Mom has become my “house’s CEO;” shopping, cooking and gardening my too often abandoned backyard as I am always on the road for Humetrix, which business is growing by leaps and bounds and trying my best to help advance heath IT policies and programs. I am especially speaking of the CMS and White House Blue Button 2.0 program, which is now set to help millions of Americans in Medicare get safer and “value-based” healthcare, and is also foundational to the new CMS and ONC Proposed Rule Making for Interoperability and Patient Access (see Humetrix NPRM comments here). “Open APIs” for Blue Button type apps, which give patients their health data, are now set to take the country by storm, asking insurers in the Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP programs, as well as all providers, to open their “data kimonos” so that patients can finally get THEIR health information with their application of choice, such as the Humetrix iBlueButton mobile app. iBlueButton is now approved by CMS and published on Medicare.gov website for 61 million Americans in Medicare to see and choose among 28 other approved Blue Button apps.

Back to Mom, I must disclose that she is also a great business development and marketing adviser for her daughter, CEO of Humetrix! At age 89, she listens every day to business radio programs and is aware of any new IT market development. She warned me - before anyone - that we had to have a new Apple Watch app to be launched when the Apple Watch went live! I had better listen to her …and Humetrix did it, launching our hypertension management TENSIO app with one of the first Apple approved Watch apps launched with the Apple Watch in April 2015!

But on this morning of July 19 in California, Mom was calling for help with her smartphone, laying on the floor of her bedroom, bleeding heavily from a sharp cut on a small vein of her ankle… What had just happened??? The culprit was a nasty rough edge on a shoe that my Mom’s local shoemaker had left in his rough shoe repair, which Mom was trying on before joining her visiting friend for dinner downstairs. Mom has been healthy and vibrant - she is a soprano singer who still performs with other professional opera singers in San Diego! Even though I’ve been there for Mom or Dad many times when health issues would arise as their concerned daughter and main family caregiver, hearing her faint voice thousands of miles away had me worried like never before. My mother is on anticoagulants (blood thinners) for chronic atrial fibrillation, and I knew right away that I could lose Mom from this stupid accident – and it should not be...

I have been an ER physician, but this was the technology empowered family caregiver who took over and helped me overcome mounting emotions and fear. As the paramedics arrived on the scene, relieving my Mom’s friend putting pressure of the wound to help stop the hemorrhage, I told them right away that my mother was on blood thinners – and more. Thanks to my iBlueButton app on my phone, I gave them solid proof of what I was telling them on the phone - sending them via text - screenshots of my iBlueButton app with my Mom’s current meds, with the exact dose of the PRADAXA drug blood thinner she takes. This helped them assess the extent of her hemorrhage and act quickly to stop the bleeding by suturing the bleeding vein. Seeing my Mom’s current diagnoses, with no history of heart failure or renal disease, the paramedics could quickly infuse the IV fluids she needed to recover from her hemorrhagic shock which could have ended her life on her bedroom floor… all that because of a broken shoe... In the hospital, l communicated in the same “mobile Blue Button” way her recent and normal blood hemoglobin value from a blood test she had back in San Diego before flying to France. That hemoglobin value quickly found on my iBlueButton app (on a new developer version which will be very soon publicly released) helped the ER physician determined how much blood my Mom had lost and compelled him to immediately order a blood transfusion.

As I am writing this blog on a flight back to California from Washington, where yesterday at the White House Blue Button Developer Conference, Seema Verma, the forceful Administrator of CMS, reminded us of the celebration of Medicare’s 54th anniversary, I just got mail from Mom. She is back to herself, healthy in her home and asking me if I got the job done speaking on the “Blue Button in the Real World” panel at the White House Conference! As I told her that I spoke of her life-threatening story where a “Blue Button came to her rescue”, she urged me to tell her story “loud and clear as millions of Americans also need to know about Blue Button apps!” So here I am!

White House Blue Button Developers Conference August 13, 2018
White House Blue Button Developers Conference July 30, 2019
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