CMS to test commercial PHRs using Medicare data

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CMS seeks to promote PHR usage. Source:  

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is launching its third pilot program to test Medicare beneficiaries use of online personal health records (PHRs) by populating commercial PHRs with Medicare claims data.

The agency plans to select as many as four commercial PHR vendors to give users a choice, according to Government HealthIT. As in the other tests, CMS will examine the pros and cons as it tries to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to use PHRs.

The one-year pilot, which begins Jan. 2, 2009, will include Medicare recipients in only Utah and Arizona. PHR vendors will partner with Noridian Administrative Services, the CMS contractor that processes claims data for those two states, reported Government HealthIT.

Nordian will be populating the PHRs with as much as two years’ worth of claims data. According to Government HealthIT, CMS does not intend to pay the vendors for participating and the vendors will not be under contract to CMS, according to the request for proposal (RFP).

The RFP calls for vendors to provide an array of features and services, such as populating the PHR with prescriptions and lab results during the pilot; importing data from devices, such as blood pressure monitors and scales; enabling users to view the data in multiple ways; and allowing them to order prescription refills.

The “pilot is designed to evaluate how well PHRs meet the needs of our beneficiaries and whether PHRs can improve health outcomes and lower costs,” CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems said.