Health IT Leaders Working on Goals for Personal Health Records


Over the next year or so, leaders in the health information technology community will work on ways to make medication history and some general demographic information available to consumers in a portable health record.

Experts at a Webcast meeting of the American Health Information Community agreed that this is the “low-hanging fruit” that could eventually pave the way for widespread access to portable, consumer-controlled personal health records. The American Health Information Community is an advisory committee to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The development of portable electronic demographic information, or registration information, would be a way to do away with the medical clipboard, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said.

“The timeliness of access to medical information is critical to patients,” said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, CEO of the National Patient Advocate Foundation and a member of the American Health Information Community. Today, most patients feel they own their medical record but when they go to get lab results from their physician, it can often take days or weeks, she said.

But one of the major hurdles in creating secure and portable patient health records is authentications, said Dr. Reed Tuckson of UnitedHealth Group, who presented information to the group.

Other obstacles include the inability to locate patient information across multiple settings, segmentation of the consumer market, privacy concerns, low levels of consumer trust, few electronic health records to connect to, and the lack of an established business model.

But there have been some successes, said David Lansky, Ph.D., of the Markle Foundation, who presented information to the group. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs set up a patient portal, and the Department of Defense has a similar program. And some health plans offer prepopulated personal health records.

“We're not starting with a blank slate,” Dr. Lansky said.

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