A Medical Device Daily

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported the selection of four personal health record (PHR) companies to participate in the new Medicare PHR Choice Pilot in Arizona and Utah.

This pilot program will, beginning in early 2009, offer beneficiaries with Original Medicare the opportunity to choose one of the selected PHR companies to maintain their health record information electronically.

The four selected companies are Google Health (Mountain View, California), HealthTrio (Centennial Colorado), NoMoreClipboard.com (Fort Wayne, Indiana) and PassportMD (Delray Beach, Florida).

CMS said these companies offer beneficiaries a range of product choices from ones that are free to ones that have "concierge" service, as well as a diverse set of connections to healthcare providers, pharmacies and other sources of health information.

"This pilot is a major step forward for Medicare. It will provide information and tools that will empower consumers to manage their health better," said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt. "Importantly, the pilot provides beneficiaries with a choice of products to meet their individual needs."

A PHR, which is controlled by the consumer, is different than an electronic health record (EHR), which is owned by and under the control of the physician. A PHR may only contain data entered by the consumer or his or her healthcare provider.

Through this pilot project, beneficiaries who select one of the participating PHR vendors can add other personal health information if they choose. Medicare also will transfer up to two years of the beneficiary's claims data into the individual's PHR, if the beneficiary requests it.

Depending on the specific product, beneficiaries may be able to authorize links to other personal electronic information such as pharmacy data.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• Medrad (Warrendale, Pennsylvania) said it will form a strategic alliance with Wetsco (Tulsa, Oklahoma), combining Wetsco's repair and innovation capabilities with Medrad's sales infrastructure, customer care and repair facility in the ultrasound market.

"This alliance is a great execution of the Multi Vendor Service mission. It will help us to provide the highest-quality repair solutions, customer care, and repair innovation in the ultrasound third-party repair market," said Diane Watson, executive director of Medrad Multi Vendor Service. "I look forward to sharing additional information about our partnership soon."

Wetsco President Dennis Wulf said, "Wetsco will accelerate its ability to deliver innovative repair capabilities as a result of this alliance, while providing the best possible service to its customers."

Both companies repair ultrasound probes.

• Zoll Medical (Chelmsford, Massachusetts), a manufacturer of resuscitation devices and related software, reported that HealthTrust Purchasing Group (Brentwood, Tennessee), a group purchasing organization, has entered into a purchasing agreement with Zoll.

Effective Oct. 1, HealthTrust members are able to purchase medical devices from Zoll, initially including the R Series and M Series professional defibrillators and the AED Plus and AED Pro. The contract portfolio consists of physician preference products as well as advanced technology products and equipment.