Kaiser Connects Patients on the Go

New website and free app from Kaiser Permanente put a patient's lab results and prescription refill requests on mobile phones.

This article published with permission from The Burrill Report.

Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest non-profit health plans, is launching a new version of its online medical records for patients tailored for mobile phones.

“This is the future of health care,” says George Halvorson, Kaiser’s chairman and CEO. “Health care needs to be connected to be all that it can be. This new level of connectivity is happening real time, and it is happening on a larger scale than anything like it in the world.”

Other health plans and insurers, such as WellPoint and UnitedHealth, are embracing mobile apps as a way to provide health information and guidance to patients. But Kaiser’s mobile offering appears to be the first to give patients the ability to view online lab results and diagnostic information, order prescription refills, and securely email their doctors.

The California-based insurer and health care provider runs the world’s largest, non-governmental electronic medical record system, holding nearly 9 million records. Despite technical headaches that plagued the system’s rollout, it is generally regarded as a model for electronic records systems.

Kaiser is launching a mobile-optimized website and a free app for Android-based smartphones at first. It expects to launch an iPhone app later this year.

“There has been an explosion in the growth of mobile devices and users are looking for new and improved ways to manage their lives online,” Halvorson says. “It is time to make health information easily accessible from mobile devices.”

Kaiser patients logged 12 million email-based “e-visits” in 2011 alone, it says. It expects that number to increase significantly with the new app and mobile-optimized site.

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The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has reported that 40% of American adults access the Internet via their mobile phones. In some cases, mobile phones are the primary source of Internet access for people, Kaiser notes.