A Medical Device Daily

The Washington State Health Care Authority (Olympia, Washington) reported three community grant recipients in its health record bank pilot program project.

The three community grant recipients include Inland Northwest Health Services, $583,377; Community Choice Healthcare Network, $551,448 and St. Joseph Hospital Foundation and the Critical Junctures Institute, $598,352.

"The state legislature charged HCA in 2005 and 2007 with the responsibility to improve information sharing for Washington's healthcare communities," said Steve Hill, administrator of the Health Care Authority. "Today, no one has access to their complete health information – parts of which are stored at multiple locations where care is provided. It is difficult for patients or medical personnel to easily see the entirety of a patient's medical information; clearly this is needed to provide the best care."

Each health record bank pilot project is a public/private partnership that will help test the feasibility and usefulness of online health record bank accounts to see if they offer a useful way for consumers to maintain, track and use their personal health information.

The Health Care Authority will be closely monitoring the usage and benefits of the health record bank pilots. Using this new technology, patients will have the ability to view and share a copy of their health information – without having to recreate the records from mounds of information, prescriptions and medical information.

The projects will begin work immediately, and are expected to be operational starting in February 2009.

The grant program is administered by the HCA in collaboration with the Health Information Infrastructure Advisory Board (HIIAB) – a statewide board that advises HCA on strategy for adoption and use of electronic health information and electronic medical records in the state's healthcare community.

"This project will give us the opportunity to expand on several years of experience in Whatcom County with the Shared Care Plan personal health record," said Marc Pierson, MD and regional vice president of clinical information at St. Joseph Hospital (Bellingham). "Consumers accessing and documenting their own health information – and sharing it with their doctors – helps physicians and patients to work together for better outcomes."

He added, "We need these pilots to learn more about the benefits and any possible pitfalls from this consumer-enabling approach. This is an opportunity to strengthen the partnership between patient and physician."

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