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Kaiser, Microsoft Partner In Online Medical Records

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, June 12, 2008 11:32 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Records, Privacy

Microsoft and Kaiser Permanente, the larges health plan in the U.S. plan to go online.



 IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ Microsoft German campus/ author: Johannes Hemmerlein


If your medical records are stored online, will they be readily available for the World Wide Web to see? Many are asking that very question as the health industry shifts from paper medical files to digitized records.

This week, Microsoft Corporation and Kaiser Permanente, the largest health maintenance organization in the United States, announced a partnership they believe will help press forward efforts to safely transfer sensitive health data to digitized medical records.

Thousands of Kaiser’s employees will initially be eligible for the pilot program, connecting the health maintenance organization’s health records with Microsoft’s HealthVault, a free, internet-based health technology platform that launched in October.

The transition from paper medical files to digitized records has been a slow one. Many medical groups, hospitals and insurance companies typically have closed computer systems that do not allow information to be exchanged.

HealthVault claims it will allow users to control their own health records and to share them privately with anyone they choose, from family members, to friends, healthcare professionals, and clinics.

Online may mean they can more easily co-manage the health of a family member, consult with a doctor or healthcare provider, and access products and services.

A recent break-in of celebrity medical records at UCLA, which eventually ended up on the pages of entertainment news sources, is a red flag for anyone wanting to guard their privacy, both online and on paper.  

Injuryboard recently interviewed Pam Dixon of World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit organization that focuses on maintaining privacy. She shared concerns for the online security and sharing of medical records.

Dixon tells IB News, " It opens up a Pandora's Box. The problem here is you have the end of privacy. People have relied on secure paper records for medical privacy, but HIPAA does not extend to Google, so you lose your doctor-patient confidentiality."

Google recently partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to begin storing medical records online.  HIPAA is a national standard intended to ensure the privacy of personal health information.

Kaiser members currently have the ability to e-mail their doctor, schedule appointments, refill prescriptions and access test results online through the HMO’s online health record, called My Health Manager, which is in use by over 2 million people.

The pilot program will allow users to syndicate their Kaiser information with data stored on the Health Vault platform, such as results from blood pressure monitors and other health information regarding diet and exercise not currently stored in their online records.

Microsoft will presumably have a large pool of potential users as Kaiser is the largest nonprofit health plan in the U.S., serving 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia.

Kaiser is slated to offer HealthVault to its members by year end if the program proves successful.

Microsoft’s HealthVault is a direct competitor of Google Inc.’s free personal health record, Google Health, which became available in May. Revolution Health, started by Steve Case of AOL, is another competitor as well as Aetna’s SmartSource.  #

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