Insurers announce personal health record initiative
Following a recent move by a group of large employers, such as Intel and Wal-Mart, to offer their employees access to personal health records (PHRs), a number of health insurance companies have joined ranks to put forward their own new PHR model. The America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) worked together to identify the core information to include in PHRs, and have developed and pilot tested standards that enable consumers to transfer PHR data when they change coverage. One major goal was to assure that the PHRs are portable from insurer to insurer. Members of the two groups cover over 200 million people.

The model PHR is a private, secure web-based tool maintained by an insurer that contains a consumer’s claims and administrative information. PHRs enable individual patients and their designated caregivers to view and manage health information and play a greater role in their own health care.

Physicians encouraged insurers to adopt a consistent set of core PHR data. Health insurers will continue to innovate in the PHRs they develop, but the goal is to incorporate core data elements into every PHR. These elements include patient histories, medications, immunizations, allergies, risks, plans of care, and other information that physicians identified as the key data. The health insurance community has set a goal of incorporating the core data elements and implementing the standards for portability from a prior insurer to a new insurer by 2008.