German payor studies benefits of PHRs

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Barmer, a German health insurer, is investigating the benefits and acceptance of personal health records (PHRs) in a three-year research study, according to the November issue of the British Journal of Healthcare Computing & Information Management.

“We are investigating an instrument that helps to bundle a large volume of scattered health information. In doing so, we will not only eliminate a source of intransparency, but also promote responsible healthcare among our members,” Birgit Fischer said, deputy chairwoman of the board at Barmer.

The research study will be managed by healthcare researcher Hanna Kirchner, MD, assisted by a scientific committee, who said, "Previous studies dealt with EMRs maintained by physicians. We want to investigate for the first time the benefits of a personal health record that can be maintained by Barmer members online and how this changes their attitude towards their health.”

The health insurance company said its seven million members will be able to set up and access their records for an annual fee via its website in mid December.

The PHR will be based on LifeSensor technology, developed by InterComponentWare of Walldorf, Germany.