The Green Button: Helping Clinicians Treat Patients More Effectively

Icons of medical equipment on a blue and teal background

Guest post by Richard C. Palmer, DrPH, JD, Acting Director, Division of Extramural Programs, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Patient medical records contain a wealth of valuable data about treatments, disease management, and patient outcomes. Clinicians and scientists have long envisioned using this information to improve and personalize patient care; however, the challenge lies in harnessing this data effectively to guide patient care.

With significant advancements in electronic health records, information technology, and data analysis, scientists from Stanford University have pioneered a groundbreaking medical initiative called the “Green Button” with support from NLM funding. This revolutionary service provides on-the-spot clinical consultation for complex medical treatment by allowing clinicians to explore, with proper security permissions, the records of millions of patients and ask the questions, “Has anyone seen a patient like mine?” and “What treatment worked best for that patient?” This technology will empower clinicians to make informed decisions about patient care and transforming the landscape of medical practice.

Watch the video about this research and find the transcript here.  

NLM Funding Spotlight | The Green Button

NLM’s research mission is to advance biomedical science by funding innovative research proposals that harness the power of health data and develop new technologies and statistical approaches that can better make use of these data. The Green Button exemplifies such an investment. By leveraging evidence from de-identified patient medical records, the Green Button significantly enhances patient care and medical decision-making. Integrating patient data into the decision-making process bridges the gap between medical records and their practical application in clinical settings.

At the core of the Green Button concept lies the idea of making medicine more tailored to each individual patient. By tapping into vast amounts of patient data and utilizing informatics advancements, the Green Button becomes a unique clinical tool that can transform health care. Its real-time capabilities and data-driven approach hold immense promise for the future of personalized health care. As the Green Button technology evolves and learns, it will likely become even more sophisticated, enabling greater precision in tailoring treatments to individual patients. This advancement has the potential to revolutionize medical practices, ushering in a new era of patient-centered care that maximizes positive outcomes and minimizes risks.

NLM takes immense pride in the investment made in this project, which has now blossomed into something larger and with significant potential to improve the lives of patients. The Green Button represents a remarkable step forward in personalized patient care, empowering clinicians to make informed decisions, especially when scientific literature or practice guidelines are scant or fall short. As this innovative platform continues to evolve, patients can look forward to a more tailored and effective approach to their medical treatments, ultimately enhancing their overall health and well-being.

Richard Palmer, DrPH, JD

Acting Director, Division of Extramural Programs, NLM

Dr. Palmer oversees NLM’s grant programs for research, resources, workforce development, and small businesses related to biomedical informatics and data science. Prior to joining NLM, Dr. Palmer was a Health Scientist Administrator at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. He has over 25 years of extramural research experience and has been an investigator on NIH- and CDC-funded research grants. Dr. Palmer has conducted research to enhance patient care standards, improve clinician-patient decision-making, and achieve cost-effective chronic disease management.

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