Personal Health Record Program Launches For Medicare Beneficiaries

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt on Wednesday said that a one-year Medicare pilot program that will encourage beneficiaries to create online personal health records will reduce paperwork and prevent unnecessary medical procedures, Cronkite News/Arizona Daily Star reports. In January 2009, the pilot program will launch in Arizona and Utah, and CMS is partnering with Google Health, HealthTrio,, and PassportMD to offer no-cost or low-cost PHRs, which will allow beneficiaries to maintain and share their medical histories with health care providers, pharmacies and others.

Leavitt said, "You can't have value-driven health care without having consumer choice, without giving people control over their own health care decisions and without having them pursue value." He added, "PHR applications are practically unlimited. They have strong potential to pay great dividends for beneficiaries" (Konopken, Cronkite News/Arizona Daily Star, 11/13).


The pilot program will cost CMS about $2.5 million in administrative costs (Alltucker, Arizona Republic, 11/13). Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said that if successful, the pilot program could be expanded to other states and could have about one million users by 2012 (Cronkite News/Arizona Daily Star, 11/13). According to the Arizona Republic, CMS chose Arizona and Utah to launch the pilot program because the states have a diverse mix of seniors in rural and urban areas, and Arizona in particular has made health information technology a priority.

Each of the four companies involved in the pilot program will be responsible for its own marketing and each has adopted its own privacy policy. According to the Republic, "Some watchdog groups are worried that there is little regulation over personal health records." Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said, "We are all excited about the prospects for these personal health records, but we are dealing with some uncertainty with respect to privacy" (Arizona Republic, 11/13).

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