Kaiser Permanente To Announce $1.8 Billion Plan To Put Patient Medical Records Online
Kaiser Permanente, the country's largest not-for-profit HMO, today will announce plans to automate its system of patient medical records -- a move that could "set a new standard for American medicine," the Wall Street Journal reports. The plan, which will cost the insurer about $1.8 billion, would take approximately three years to complete and would make records available to 12,000 providers. Under the plan, Kaiser would make parts of each patient's records available online to them, allowing them to access recent test results, view their complete immunization history or review their current medications. In order to implement the plan, Kaiser will buy a system from Madison, Wis.-based software company Epic Systems, "abandon[ing] a decadelong effort to develop such a system itself," the Journal reports. The health insurer started researching a clinical information system in the early 1990s in conjunction with IBM and in 1997 introduced a system in Colorado. Kaiser then decided to roll out the program nationally, but the "region-by-region" process proved slow, and other systems were becoming available in the meantime, the Journal reports. The deal with Epic is expected to cost Kaiser $1 billion less than the internal-development plan. Kaiser Chair and CEO George Halvorson, who took charge of the HMO last year, said the decision to purchase the Epic system was based on a review of Kaiser's information technology strategy and "commercial alternatives." He added that with the new system the company will have "the potential to have the most complete set of medical information about patients, and a population of patients, of anyone in the world" (Rundle, Wall Street Journal, 2/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.