Medicare to test personal health records

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will launch an 18-month pilot program to determine which personal health record (PHR) tools and features Medicare beneficiaries find the most useful. Medicare will work with four health plans on the project—HIP USA, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Each plan will offer a unique PHR that will allow beneficiaries to look up information about their medications and medical conditions to help them manage their care. The PHRs will contain patients' medical conditions, hospitalizations, doctor visits and medications and will be automatically updated with Medicare data. Beneficiaries can access the PHRs via the website They will be able to select information to populate the record including their Medicare policy number, registration information, a list of their medications and medical conditions. The PHR will enable beneficiaries to look up additional information about their medications and medical conditions.

CMS will collect quantitative and qualitative data during the PHR project to determine the PHR features that are most attractive to Medicare beneficiaries, the minimum content and functionality they need for such tools, and assess the best methods for outreach and education to encourage use of them.