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Health Record Bank Launches in January

Foster children and pregnant women are the first targets
October 27, 2009
  October 27, 2009 -- Imagine having your personal health records stored in a bank account. The next time you went to the doctor, you’d just need to stuff a card into your wallet that had all your health records, and you wouldn’t need to answer the same questions over and over again about your medical history.   That’s exactly the motivation behind a pilot project that gets underway in January for people on Medicaid, thanks to a $5.5 million federal grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The project is slated to go statewide in March.   Web MD is developing and marketing the technology, while OCHIN will deploy that technology and focus on engaging patients to use the new system, which will be known as The Health Record Bank of Oregon.   “Interesting to have a marriage between a for-profit business serving mostly employer-based plan members and OCHIN, a mission driven not-for-profit serving the safety net – groundbreaking,” said Barry Kast, project director.   The goal: have at least 30,000 participants by March 2011, according to Kast. “We’re excited about this; we’re building transitional technology, and there’ll be a central repository for information under the patient’s control. What we learn will be important for the next generation.”   If the project is successful in recruiting patients, the next target is public employees, followed by private employers. “We’ll try to find a business model and sustain it,” said Kast, who intends to step away once the Medicaid project gets off the ground, leaving in charge Douglas Jones, who’s the project manager.   Initially the project will target:
  • Children in foster care;
  • Consumers with chronic disease conditions such as diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Consumers receiving disease management services from a health plan or a provider;
  • Consumers who use a high number of prescription medications; and,
  • Consumers with frequent clinic and emergency room visits.
By giving people command of their health records, officials hope to improve the quality of care and health outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, limit adverse events and unneeded services and, ultimately, reduce healthcare costs.   “Now medical records are tied to providers, insurers and hospitals,” Kast said. “This system takes copies of those records and puts them in a central repository, a bank, under the patient’s control.”   When providers realize the value of personal health records, there’s a higher likelihood patients will comply, according to Abby Sears, OCHIN’s executive director.      With its sophisticated health information technology system for providers, OCHIN’s computer system has 75-85 percent of all Medicaid visits and 35-40 percent of visits by the uninsured in Oregon.    “We’re trying to do something no one else has done; our goal is to start breaking down barriers for the first time,” Sears said. “It’ll be a tough road, but Oregon is forward thinking, and we’re a little ahead of our time on this consumer driven healthcare model. Now we need to push the envelope, and empower our patients and help them partner with their healthcare.”   The personal health record will include a person’s medication list, lab results, allergies, immunizations, clinical and imaging reports, discharge summaries, family history, procedures, diseases, over the counter medications and physician orders for life-sustaining treatment better known as POLST.   “Our goal is to make the delivery system more effective, and give consumers complete control over who has access to their information,” said Sears, who called the project a change management issue. “People aren’t used to being empowered when it comes to their healthcare.”