IBM Offers Electronic Health Records System to Employees
IBM soon will launch a Web-based electronic health records system for its 180,000 U.S. employees, the Wall Street Journal reports. IBM officials say the program, which will be announced to workers in a memo on Wednesday, is the first of its kind at a major corporation.
Initially, company employees will be able to input their health information into the Web-based EHR system, which will track prescription drugs and chronic conditions. Beginning next year, the EHR system automatically will update information when employees' insurance claims are filed or their prescriptions are filled. IBM eventually plans to expand the EHR system to include test results and medical images, such as MRI scans.
Employee information stored in the EHR system will be confidential, a company spokesperson said.
President Bush wants EHRs to be established for most patients by the middle of the next decade, but studies to date show that fewer than 25% of hospitals are using the technology, the Journal reports. IBM officials hope the company's program will encourage other corporations to adopt EHRs, which in turn could prompt hospitals and doctors offices to use them.
Neil de Crescenzo -- an IBM vice president and head of the company unit selling EHR systems -- said, "It's a classic chicken-and-egg problem around health care information."
Charles Safran, an associate clinical professor at Harvard Medical School and chair of the American Medical Information Association, said, "This may be a way of jump-starting that whole are of participation." He added, "I hope many other companies will rapidly step forward and follow suit."
The Journal notes that the new policy could offer a financial benefit to IBM if widespread adoption of EHRs helps the company sell more of its EHR systems (Forelle, Wall Street Journal, 10/19).