Delia Vetter

Today’s workforce is no longer static – it is dynamic, global and certainly mobile. As a society, we need to think about how we access information. Our personal financial information is at our fingertips anytime, anywhere. Can we say the same about our personal health information (PHI), which is usually fragmented amongst disparate electronic medical record (EMR) systems? 

Consumer health data is vast, and as regulations drive the adoption of EMRs, the data will only continue to grow. This data growth offers enormous benefits to the consumer. In providing our workforce access to this information, we enable them to leverage their own data, gain insights into their healthcare and take action when necessary. That is why Web-based ePHRs (electronic personal health records) are valuable to consumers. Think about the last time you were in an urgent care situation. It may have gone something like this:

You are in the emergency room; time is of the essence. You want to be treated for the condition at hand, but you’re being deluged by very basic past medical history questions: When was the last time you had a tetanus shot? Are you taking any medications? What are the names and dosages? Have you ever taken drug X? Why? What was the dosage? What are your blood pressure reading trends over the past two years?

If the treating physician asked the last time you transferred funds from your savings account to your checking account or the annual returns on your 401k over the past two years, a quick log in to your financial records would result in efficient, accurate answers accessible within a few seconds. Shouldn’t healthcare consumers be concerned about the lack of access to personal health information? Shouldn’t they own and control their own data? Patients would certainly benefit from having access to and control of their own information – partnered with good governance and oversight to ensure safe, quality, efficient care.

Consumers should be the stewards of their PHI, with the ability to access their medical utilization information anytime, anywhere. Since 2004, EMC employees and family members over the age of 18 have had access to their ePHR, which is auto populated (via data warehouse hosted by Optum). The ePHR, a feature of the EMC-branded HealthLink, a personalized health portal hosted by WebMD Health Services, contains data including:

  • Date of service;
  • Name of treating physician;
  • Reason for the service;
  • Diagnosis;
  • Lab values;
  • Prescription meds;
  • Biometric screening data;
  • Out-of-pocket costs;
  • The actual cost of service;
  • Image sharing via LifeImage;
  • Vision care information;
  • Vision prescription; and
  • Hardware.

The ePHR continuously evolves to create a full view of the consumer’s health, with dental information on the horizon.

And it doesn’t stop there. Employees who participate in SmartBeat, a hypertension remote patient-monitoring program managed by Healthrageous, can upload their blood pressure readings into their ePHR. The ePHR, utilized on average by nearly 40 percent of employees and 29 percent of adult dependents, is health plan agnostic.

In the near future, tethering ePHRs to EMRs and HIEs (health information exchanges) will make them even more valuable. Stay tuned.

About the author

Delia Vetter is senior director of benefits and programs, EMC Corporation. For more on EMC, click here.