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Insurer Will Let Members Access Their Health Data From Cell Phones

Members of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania will be able to check key health information from their cell phones.

Some people keep tabs on their favorite stocks using their cell phones. Soon, members of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania will be able to check their diagnoses and other key health information in the same way: from their cell phones.

Starting at the end of March, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, known as BCNEPA, will begin providing 100,000 of its members--and later to all 600,000 members--secure electronic access to their own and their dependents' personal health records. The information, which includes recent diagnoses, prescribed medications, allergies, and immunization history, will be culled from the insurer's claims data as well as information that the member supplements.

"It's not a complete record, but it will have relevant diagnoses," and drug information, which members can share with doctors or others, especially in mobile situations such as when a patient is being treated while traveling, says Dr. Drew Palin, chief development officer at BCNEPA. Members will be able to access their personal health information from their cell phones, as well as PDAs and PCs. Members will also be able to use the system to confirm eligibility and coverage for health care services at the time they're treated.

To ensure the secure wireless access to that data, BCNEPA has licensed Diversinet's MobiSecure Wallet and Vault soft-token, wireless authentication products.

When a BCNEPA member uses his or her cell phone to access the BCNEPA Web site, the system sends to the member's cell phone a one-time-use password. A new password is sent each time the mobile member uses the personal health record system. The password can be used to access the health information via the cell phone or via a computer, such as in a physician's office.

BCNEPA will likely add enhancements to it personal health record system in the future, says Palin. But in the meantime, providing secure mobile access to critical information will help BCNEPA members "to take better control of their health," says Palin.

While other insurers have begun offering their members online personal health records, BCNEPA and Diversinet officials say they believe BCNEPA will be the first to provide the access the health record data via mobile devices, such as cell phones.

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