CMS seeks input on personal health records

CMS Personal Health Record RFI

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wants public input on what roles it and its vast storehouse of data on Medicare beneficiaries should play in the development and use of personal health records.

Several vendors and organizations offer personal health records, including PC-based and Web based systems. These include simple and free downloadable records forms from the American Health Information Management Association and MyNetRecord.com, which offers an online records service free for use in its first year.

Tony Trenkle, CMS' director of e-health standards and services, emphasized that the agency does not intend to get into the personal health record business, but it does want to determine how to work with vendors and other stakeholders to make use of CMS data in the records.

CMS issued a request for information today, which asks for public comment on how best to capitalize on its resources and data for use on personal health records. Besides claims information on all Medicare beneficiaries, as of next January, CMS will also have prescription information for its beneficiaries when the Medicare drug benefit starts.

CMS is always looking for ways to make its information available and more useful to its beneficiaries, the RFI states. “We believe using [personal health records] can provide health and wellness benefits to our beneficiaries,” it reads.

The agency issued the RFI to determine what personal health records functions are important to beneficiaries, whether it should provide some services directly to beneficiaries and what kind of data it should make available to vendors.

The agency also wants to find out what pieces of CMS information can be used in personal health records, how often that information should be updated and what kind of links there should be between the records and electronic health records maintained by physicians.

Stanley Nachimson, a senior technical adviser at CMS, said the privacy and security of any CMS data provided to personal health records vendors is a main concern. The agency wants to ensure that any data is protected and used appropriately, he said.

The RFI asks for comment on whether the agency should certify CMS vendors to ensure that they provide privacy and security safeguards for data.

Replies to the RFI are due Aug. 31. CMS will hold a public forum on it July 21 from 2-4 p.m. at its auditorium, 7500 Security Blvd, in Baltimore. The dial-in number for the forum is (800) 642-1687, conference code 6586606.

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