The Kansas Health Information Network may be the first statewide exchange in the country to provide a personal health record portal for patients, according to network officials.
KHIN, which is in the process of connecting the electronic health record systems of thousands of providers across the state, plans to launch personal health record portals for patients this summer and be fully operational by next year.
“The whole goal is around patient safety and engagement in health care,” said Laura McCrary, KHIN executive director. “As providers, we always want patients more engaged in health care, but as a patient, it’s hard if you don’t have your own health information available.”
“Our goal now is to provide a longitudinal look for patients to get engaged and focus on information their own health.”
Personal health records differ from traditional online patient portals in that patients can enter their own information into the record instead of just viewing it, McCrary said.
Patients can enter information such as family history, medications and over-the-counter drugs, exercise habits and allergies, which would then be available for all of their health care providers to see online.
The service will have no cost to patients, McCrary said, and costs for provider participation are included in KHIN membership.
The vendor KHIN has selected to facilitate personal health records is NoMoreClipboard of Fort Wayne, Ind. Although final negotiations on the contract are not complete, McCrary said, they chose NoMoreClipboard because of its experience with health information exchanges in Indiana.
“We thought it was incredibly important (for the vendor) to have knowledge,” she said.
Ron Brown, family medicine doctor with Wichita Family Medicine Specialists, said that the personal health record portal will be similar to what they have for patients at their practice.
“It can save the patient and the treating physician time if they can pull that up and just verify change or no change,” he said. “This is a permanent record to access that will improve communication and improve quality.”
The patient portal used by his practice has proved popular, Brown said.
Allen Laramore, project manager for the Wichita Health Information Exchange, which falls under the umbrella of KHIN, said the move will especially benefit providers who have not already purchased their own patient portal software.
The KHIN website says that if providers have already purchased their own portals, a link to the KHIN personal health record can be attached.
KHIN’s network is growing at about 10,000 patient records per week. There are currently about 225,000 patient records in the network. McCrary expects even more significant growth in the next 90 days as several more health systems will be added.
Details of how the personal health records will be set up and accessed have yet to be determined, McCrary said.
The push for integrated electronic health records is partially due to financial incentives for providers who make the switch and meet a series of federal guidelines.“Meaningful use” is a set of standards set up by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services so that hospitals and providers can earn incentives for participating and meeting certain criteria.
The federal government is trying to encourage participation in the information exchanges, saying it will improve the quality of health care and help keep costs down.
McCrary said that one of the meaningful use requirements said that providers need to have at least 5 percent of patients look at their personal health records.
As part of the statewide network, if a patient looks at his records, the occurrence will count for all of that patient’s providers, helping them meet the requirement, McCrary said.