Kate Christensen, MD, Medical Director, kp.org, with Paulanne Balch, MD, Physician Lead for HealthConnect Online, Colorado Region
Greetings from Oakland, where I have been graciously invited to attend a get together of Kaiser Permanente’s clinical and business leadership for HealthConnect Online, which serves the personal health record connected to the electronic health record, HealthConnect, and accessible through kp.org.
I will say that even in the absence of the PCHIT work, I would want to be here. Why? Because I have always thought that the most innovative staff within Kaiser Permanente support the HealthConnect project, and the most innovative of that group support HealthConnect Online.
This was the first such meeting with every Kaiser Permanente region now fully live with the PHR, with Ohio up now for 30 days. And from my perspective, the news is good. As each region of the system discussed their current and future plans for the PHR, commentary focused on value of each feature for the members. I really liked what Gail Sands, Director of Innovative Projects for the Ohio region said: “This is the patient’s chart. They should know what’s inside.”
Strides in Transparency
- More regions than ever are now sending laboratory results to patients at the same time they are being sent to doctors. The Northern California region moved this way in August, 2007, and with an annual volume of 21 million lab tests, this is significant. The experience of patients and care teams is showing that more transparency is better.
- The Mid-Atlantic Region has opened up the schedule books online, allowing patients to select and make appointments with their primary care providers. Mid-Atlantic in general has been one of the most active in pioneering new features for members.
Patient-entered data: Getting there
There has been a big interest in members themselves entering data into the electronic health record, with several solutions attempted. With a good evaluation of the patient experience, the discovery is that the technology may not be ready to implement across populations. Another discovery is around the type of information that members want to add to their chart, which includes not only things like blood pressure, but also tracking things like weight and other measures of wellness and health. There are many tools out there that allow for tracking of a wide variety of biometrics, so this is promising information, when combined with the idea that a health care organization like Kaiser Permanente can integrate this data directly into the health record and the care experience.
My sense is that routine entry of data by patients directly into the health record will be possible across a large population like this when it can be assured that when members add to their medical record, it’s easy to do, relevant to them, and it reduces uncertainty for themselves and their care teams.