CMS assessing patient health record development for Medicare recipients

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is seeking industry comment to determine how involved the agency should be in the development of personal electronic health records for its target populations.

Personal health records, which enable patients to store and manage their health information electronically, are already available commercially as standalone software applications installed on a personal computer or posted at a Web site hosted by a private company, provider or insurance agency. Health-care providers also populate their electronic health record systems with individuals’ personal health records.

CMS is considering how to make its extensive claims information more accessible and more useful to Medicare beneficiaries, including the use of personal health records, CMS said in its request for information posted yesterday on FedBizOpps.

As the largest buyer of health care in the United States, CMS wants to assess how to take advantage of existing patient health records for Medicare beneficiaries or foster the development of its own personal health records targeted at the needs of the Medicare population.

CMS is currently testing a Medicare Beneficiary Portal that provides only Medicare information that CMS stores or collects, such as claim or benefit information. It is not intended as a complete personal health history for an individual.

“No uniform understanding yet exists about what threshold a personal e-health tool must cross to be called a PHR [personal health record] or about the boundary between the PHR and the many functions it enables,” CMS said in its RFI. Also, no clear definition or dividing line exists between the electronic health record and personal health record.

CMS is interested in promoting a standards-based approach to patient health records. It is critical that the agency be able to interface with a wide variety of record systems, so CMS wants to know what data and communication standards exist for the exchange and storage of personal health record data among providers, individuals and patient health record vendors. It also wants input from industry about what CMS Medicare information beyond claims, clinical and functional-assessment data should be included in a patient health record.

Responses are due to CMS by Aug. 31.

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