The CMS personal health-record pilot project in Arizona and Utah will rely on industry innovation to test whether Medicare beneficiaries will participate in an online, portable PHR.
The Medicare Personal Health Record Choice Pilot, launching in January 2009, allows Medicare beneficiaries in the two states to have their Medicare claims information automatically added to their online PHRs. The pilotexpected to cost $2.5 million, according to the CMSwill run for one year.
Four vendors were selected to provide the PHRs: Google Health, HealthTrio, NoMoreClipboard.com and PassportMD.
Health IT is especially important in this day and age when, especially for Medicare beneficiaries, people have more than one chronic condition and see multiple providers, said Kerry Weems, CMS acting administrator, when announcing the first-of-its-kind pilot project.
The four vendors will be responsible for beneficiary recruitment and helping enrollees use the PHRs with ease. The CMS will be looking at adoption rates and what types of outreach efforts are most effective, among other factors, Weems said.
Forty companies expressed interest in the pilot project, 18 submitted complete applications and of those the four vendors were chosen. Each company has its own strengths, though all four have a dedicated Web site for PHRs and strong privacy protocols, Weems said. The selection process was overseen by Noridian Administrative Services.
HealthTrio, for instance, has real-time secure messaging between a physician and patient; Google Health has an excellent platform for PHRs, along with a suite of services; NoMoreClipboard.com can render PHRs on provider forms; and PassportMD has secure physician access, Weems said.
Utah and Arizona were selected by the CMS as sites for the pilot project because both have substantial Medicare populations in urban and rural settings. Additionally, the two Western states are far along in the agencys nationwide efforts to upgrade and streamline billing processes in Medicare fee-for-service plans, Weems said.
It will be up to the vendors to recruit and train Medicare beneficiaries on the PHR systems, and the four vendors said they are working on this before the program begins in January. We are going to think about outreach strategies, said Missy Krasner, product marketing manager for Google Health, adding that the Medicare population might need more-specific and more-targeted instruction on using the Web-based system.
I suspect they will use many avenues in recruiting participants, Weems said.
The CMS is hoping that the legions of retiring baby boomers will drive PHR adoption and help reduce Medicare costs.
Arizona has been working aggressively towards PHR implementation and adoption across the state. Chris Cummiskey, chief information officer of Arizona, said that Gov. Janet Napolitano is very excited about this partnership.
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