Lori Nichols is director of the Whatcom Health Information Network, a collaborative in Bellingham co-founded by St. Joseph Hospital in the mid-1990s initially as an e-mail information exchange.
Nichols said patients who participate in the Whatcom exchange and currently have their medical information stored in a database hosted by St. Joseph Hospital, part of the PeaceHealth system, will be able to register online for HealthVault, opt in to the additional service and copy their data to HealthVault, hopefully, in about a month. The shared-cared PHR serves about 1,800 patients, Nichols said. Congrals updated version of the PHR software also allows for the same fine-tuning of patient controls of their data that the original shared-care software did, she said.
Jesus Hernandez is executive director of Community Choice, a not-for-profit consortium of five hospitals in a four-county area of north-central Washington. Over the past six years, the consortium has helped introduce its members to teleradiology, telepharmacy and now, a health-record bank, Hernandez said.
Congrals software, called a personal health-management system, is basically a personal health-record application that provides connectivity to multiple systems, Hernandez said. Community Choice will host and deliver Congrals PHR software in the application service provider delivery mode with HealthVault also incorporating the PHR on its platform to provide data storage, he said.
Unlike the Whatcom Health Information Network, Community Choice will not provide an alternative of hosting patients medical information outside of HealthVault, Hernandez said.
Were basically partnering with Microsoft where they become the central repository as the data store, Hernandez said.
The main thing that they provide is free storage, Hernandez said, but flexibility is also a benefit. HealthVault has pre-established data fields that makes it easy to lift that data into any app you want to use.
Community Choice is still working on the interfaces with its members and the new service, Hernandez said.
We are going to have four (provider) systems interfaced, plus the state immunization registry, Hernandez said. Community Choice has yet to move patient data to HealthVault, but he said he hopes to go live with the service in a couple of weeks.
For now, the Community Choice service will operate on money from the state grant, Hernandez said.
Congral is a vendor that were purchasing the PHR from, Hernandez said. At this point, were making it available to the consumer at no cost. Were exploring different avenues for sustainable revenue.
Neither Nichols nor Hernandez said that they see a problem in the recent attempt by Congress to extend the privacy and security rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 to cover PHRs.
A Google official said that the changes in federal healthcare privacy and security law embodied in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 do not apply to its Google Health application while a Microsoft official said that the company is still studying the impact of the new law on its HealthVault platform.
Nichols said that the stimulus legislation does not affect her groups relationship with Microsoft.
We have patients sign a HIPAA release, Nichols said. Besides, she said, Some patients would like to have the ability to store their information and know who gets it without encumbering by HIPAA.
Having patients in charge of their data is a big part that drove our state to do what were doing. Hernandez said. Its under their control outside of HIPAA. Our state is taking that approach rather than fund provider-centric health information exchanges.
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