Kaiser Permanente Offers EHR App For Androids

iPhone app coming soon; patients also can securely access health records and email docs via mobile-friendly version of Kaiser website.
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Nine million Kaiser Permanente patients now can access their electronic health records (EHRs) and securely email their physicians using their smart phones and other mobile devices.

Kaiser Permanente, which has the largest civilian EHR system in the world, this week introduced a new mobile EHR application for Android smartphones.

An iPhone application also is in the works and will be available from Kaiser Permanente in coming months. In the meantime, iPhone users, as well as users "of any mobile device," can access their Kaiser Permanente EHR via a new "mobile-optimized" version of the Kaiser website,, said Kaiser Permanente CIO Phil Fasano in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.

[ Kaiser helps lead in other areas of health IT. See Five Leading Healthcare Organizations To Exchange Patient Data. ]

The site provides a streamlined menu of features allowing minimal taps for mobile device users to find information they need quickly.

Because Kaiser Permanente patients have around-the-clock ability to securely access their records, including lab results and diagnostic and pharmacy information, as well as schedule appointments and communicate with clinicians, "this will transform interactions between physicians and patients," Fasano predicts.

The ability for Kaiser Permanente patients to access their information using mobile devices also can be helpful when traveling and needing care from a non-KP provider.

Data doesn't get stored on the patients' mobile devices, but rather patients access their data via the Kaiser Permanente site that's been designed to be mobile-device friendly, Fasano said.

The mobile-optimized site uses the same security safeguards that protect patient information on Kaiser Permanente's traditional website, including secure sign-on and automatic sign-out after a period of inactivity.

The new mobile EHR app is just one of several mobile apps being developed by Kaiser Permanente for its patients, including a new preventive care app that will be introduced in about a month, Fasano said.

"We're expanding capabilities and features in the mhealth field," he said. The idea is to complement the existing features Kaiser Permanente patients have with their KP HealthConnect EHR and "attract additional folks" to using mobile health tools, he said.

Kaiser Permanente patients have been able to email their doctors for five years. In 2011, that translated to 12 million "e-visits". With the new mobile app and the organizations' mobile user site, Kaiser Permanente expects the number of e-visits and other related interactions to increase significantly.

Other healthcare organizations also are focusing attention on giving their patients and clinicians access to health data via smartphones. At Partners Healthcare, an integrated health delivery network in Boston that includes Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's hospitals, a mobile version of Partners' home-grown mobile EHR is available to physicians on iPads and iPhones. That lets Partner's docs access patient data while on the go. Much of that Partners' development effort focused on making the patient information friendly for clinicians to use on the mobile device screens.

When Partners began contemplating a mobile version of its EHR several years ago, the Blackberry was the device of choice. Today, there's less demand for EHRs on the Blackberry, but lots of interest among doctors for using their Android devices with Partner's EHR, which is a capability next on Partners' to-do list, said Partner's CTO Steve Flammini in a recent interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.

As healthcare providers of all shapes and sizes start implementing electronic medical records systems, security must be a top priority. Here's what you need to be thinking about to ensure your system is locked down. Download the report here (registration required).

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