Healthcare IT and Technology News January 25 2012.
Patient information securely available with a touch of a finger with new app and mobile-optimized kp.org.
Kaiser Permanente already has the largest electronic medical record system in the world. Today, the health care organization announced that 9 million Kaiser Permanente patients now can easily access their own medical information anywhere in the world on mobile devices through a mobile-optimized website. Kaiser Permanente has released a new app for Android devices, and users of other mobile devices, including the iPhone, can also get full access to that information from the Kaiser Permanente health record system with the mobile-optimized version of kp.org. An additional app for iPhone will be released in the coming months, but iPhone users can easily download a shortcut icon onto their home screens that will take them directly to the mobile-friendly kp.org with a touch of the finger.
Kaiser Permanente has led the health care world in providing online access to information for its patients. In 2011 alone, more than 68 million lab test results were made available online to Kaiser Permanente patients. The mobile-optimized site and the new app make that information, and much more, securely available at members' fingertips. Kaiser Permanente patients will have 24/7 access to lab results, diagnostic information, direct and secure email access to their doctors, and will also be able to order prescription refills. Kaiser Permanente patients have been able to email their doctors for five years, with more than 12 million e-visits in 2011 alone. Kaiser Permanente expects that number to increase significantly with the new app and mobile-optimized site. The Android app is available now in the Android Market at no charge. Users of other mobile devices can access the same set of care-support tools at no charge through the new secure, mobile-optimized member website, which is available through smart-phone Internet browsers.
With the new offering, Kaiser Permanente patients have 24/7 access from their mobile devices to view their secure personal health record, email their doctors, schedule appointments, refill prescriptions and locate Kaiser Permanente medical facilities. Members who have the ability to act on behalf of a family member on kp.org now can accomplish the same tasks. Those caring for an elderly parent or someone with a chronic condition can now more easily check lab results, refill prescriptions and communicate with the doctor's office on behalf of the patient.
"This is the future of health care. Health care needs to be connected to be all that it can be. This new level of connectivity is happening real time, and it is happening on a larger scale than anything like it in the world," said George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente. "The fact that a Kaiser Permanente patient in an emergency room in Paris or Tokyo can simply pull out their mobile device and have immediate and current access to their own medical information is an evolutionary and revolutionary breakthrough for medical connectivity." "Our members love our current connectivity tools," said Christine Paige, senior vice president of marketing and Internet services. "Now we will extend our entire connectivity tool kit for patients through a mobile phone. Our mobile-optimized site and app take connectivity to the next level by making the mobile experience easy and enjoyable. We believe that convenience, paired with a great user experience, will meet members' needs and will ultimately result in improved health and patient-physician relationships."
Members using the Android app have access to their kp.org accounts by touching the app icon on their phones. Those visiting kp.org from a mobile phone Internet browser are seamlessly redirected to the mobile-optimized website, which was designed for optimal viewing on a mobile-phone screen. In both cases, a streamlined menu of mobile-optimized features helps members find what they need quickly and easily with minimal taps.
"Providing our patients with clear and convenient access to their health information is a step forward in connectivity and improving the health care experience for patients, no matter where they are," said Jack Cochran, MD, executive director of The Permanente Federation. "We already have complete connectivity among Kaiser Permanente care sites through Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®. This new level of connectivity extends the reach of information to our patients in a more convenient and user-friendly format. This new app and mobile-optimized site is very good for patient care and will revolutionize connectivity by bringing health care for the first time to the level of connectivity other parts of our economy have achieved."
Users' personal health information is safe and secure while using the new app and the mobile-friendly kp.org, which employ the same security safeguards that protect patient information on the traditional kp.org website, including secure sign-on and automatic sign-out after a period of inactivity. "The benefits of mobile extend beyond member engagement," said Philip Fasano, executive vice president and chief information officer of Kaiser Permanente.
"Mobile solutions can have a positive impact on health. Health care, itself, will be much more convenient for many people. The mobile-friendly site and app are also a springboard for new innovations that will inspire members to be aware of their health and take steps to improve it."
The Pew Internet Project reported that 40 percent of American adults access the Internet via their mobile phones, and in some cases, mobile phones are their primary source of Internet access. Twenty-five percent of smart-phone owners go online primarily using their phone; of these, roughly one-third have no high-speed home broadband connection. "There has been an explosion in the growth of mobile devices and users are looking for new and improved ways to manage their lives online," Halvorson said. "It is time to make health information easily accessible from mobile devices." "Edelman's 2011 Health Barometer reported that 68 percent of those who use digital tools to manage or track their health believed it helped them improve their health," Paige said. "Nearly 80 percent of kp.org users agreed that the website helps them stay healthy. The tools and services available on kp.org are even more powerful in the palm of your hand."
This is a major new connectivity offering, but it is not Kaiser Permanente's first mobile app. Other, more targeted tools, were released earlier. Kaiser Permanente launched its first mobile application, KP Locator for iPhone, in July 2011. The facility-finder app has been downloaded 42,000 times. KP Locator combines the power of kp.org's robust facility directory and the iPhone's GPS capabilities to make searching for Kaiser Permanente facilities fast and easy for patients on the go. It answers three of the most basic, but vital, user questions thoroughly and simply -- where are the Kaiser Permanente locations close to me, how can I contact and get to them, and what departments and services can I access there? Kaiser Permanente also released its Every Body Walk! App two months ago to help encourage people to walk and maintain healthy activity levels, and that app was rated No. 5 in the Top 100 Green Apps by Eco-Libris. Kaiser Permanente is known for its leadership in the use of health information technology.
The Kaiser Permanente electronic health record is the largest non-governmental medical record system in the world. KP HealthConnect enables all of Kaiser Permanente's nearly 16,000 physicians to electronically access the medical records of all 8.9 million Kaiser Permanente members nationwide and serves as a model for other care systems. Kaiser Permanente has received numerous awards for its health IT expertise, including four 2011 eHealthcare Leadership Awards. You can learn more about how patients, clinicians and researchers are using My Health Manager and KP HealthConnect by checking out Kaiser Permanente's YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/kaiserpermanenteorg . Kaiser Permanente also has what might be the world's most complete electronic medical library to support its caregivers by providing convenient access to the best and most current medical science. That electronic medical library is for internal use only.
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