CMS launches South Carolina Medicare PHR pilot

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched a Medicare online personal health records (PHRs) pilot program in South Carolina.

The voluntary program gives thousands of Medicare beneficiaries in the state access to a PHR populated with their hospital and physician claims information. Information on prescription drugs will not be provided, but PHR users can enter information about their prescription and over-the-counter medications, the agency said.

Through the pilot, CMS said it hopes to learn more about people’s use of PHRs and how to encourage them to use the tools.

The one-year project in South Carolina began April 4 and is open only to those enrolled in the original fee-for-service Medicare plan, agency officials said.

The PHRs in the pilot project are a product of HealthTrio, which offers employer-sponsored PHRs. The claims data comes from Palmetto GBA, which processes Medicare claims from South Carolina.

Individuals who use the PHRs will find convenient links to websites with information relevant to their health conditions, CMS officials said.

CMS has insisted that the PHR contractors, headed by a small Maryland company called QSSI, comply with federal security standards, stating that strict privacy and security safeguards will protect beneficiary data.

PHR users can share the information in their records with their families and healthcare providers by designating those individuals as their authorized representatives. Those representatives will receive their own user IDs and passwords.

Medicare offers limited PHRs on its own website and is conducting another PHR pilot with seven health plans, according to CMS.