Public Resists Electronic Personal Health Records

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- President Bush, members of Congress, and key consumer organizations are all calling for broad implementation of electronic personal health records--and now it's time to convince the public of their worth, David Lansky, Ph.D., said at a meeting on health information technology sponsored by eHealth Initiative and Bridges to Excellence.

Now most patients' health information is scattered across many different providers and facilities. Unlike physician- or institution-based electronic medical records, an electronic personal health record is maintained and updated by the patient, and can be vital to providing the patient the best medical care, especially in cases of an emergency.

Information such as health insurance policy numbers, health history, current medications and dosages, and allergies would be quickly accessible and could be shared among hospitals and providers, said Dr. Lansky, senior director of health programs at the Markle Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on accelerating the use of information technology in health care and national security.

Dr. Lansky said various industries and organizations have staked a high level of commitment to making this type of electronic collection common, including:

* America's Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield, whose member plans provide health insurance to more than 100 million Americans.

* Large employers, such as IBM Corp. and PepsiCo Inc.

* Consumer groups, including the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) and the National Health Council.

* Internet companies, such as Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., and WebMD Inc.

"This is a very exciting time," Dr. Lansky said. "Big companies see this year as the time to change how Americans view their health care."

However, although consumers now can now go many places consumers to develop an electronic personal health record (such as providers, employers, and pharmacies), they are not extremely popular. …