In the latest move towards providing increasingly ubiquitous and mobile access to health records, US healthcare organisation Kaiser Permanente has released a new app for Android devices to give their patients mobile access to its 'my health manager' personal health record. Users of other mobile devices, including iPhones, will also be able to use the mobile-optimized version of the kp.org website to access information from their Kaiser Permanente health record system. An additional app for iPhones is expected to be released in the near future, although iPhone users can currently download a shortcut icon onto their home screens that will take them directly to the mobile-friendly kp.org site (1, 2).
Patients will be able to view their secure personal health record, email their doctors, schedule appointments, and refill prescriptions from anywhere in the world. Members who act on behalf of another family member on kp.org will also be able to accomplish the same tasks, so that those caring for an elderly parent or someone with a chronic condition, for example, will be able to more easily check lab results, refill prescriptions and communicate with the doctor’s office on behalf of the patient. While Kaiser Permanente patients have been able to email their doctors for five years, this new development is expected to provide a significant increase on the 12 million e-visits patients made in 2011.
Information accessible through the app will be subject to the same security safeguards as the 'my health manager' section of the Kaiser Permanente website, including secure sign-on and automatic sign-off after a period of inactivity. The company’s chief information officer, Philip Fasano, said that the “mobile-friendly site and app are also a springboard for new innovations that will inspire members to be aware of their health and take steps to improve it.” This is not Kaiser Permanente’s first mobile app; the recently-released “Every Body Walk!” which aims to help encourage people to walk and maintain healthy activity levels (2).
It has been noted that the Pew Internet Project reported that 40 percent of American adults access the Internet via their mobile phones, and in some cases, mobile phones are their primary source of Internet access (2). Twenty-five percent of US smart-phone owners go online primarily using their phone and, of these, about one-third have no high-speed home broadband connection. The development of such mobile access by Kaiser Permanente and other organisations is expected to make health information more easily accessible.
- Crispin, S (2012, 27 Jan.) Kaiser makes personal records mobile. E-Health Insider. Available online at http://www.ehi.co.uk/news/EHI/7488/kaiser-makes-personal-records-mobile
- Poorsina, R (2012, 24 Jan.) Nearly 9 Million Kaiser Permanente Health Records Securely Available on Mobile Devices. News Release. Available online at http://xnet.kp.org/newscenter/pressreleases/nat/2012/012412kporgmobileoptimized.html