This excerpt taken from the UNH 8-K filed Dec 19, 2006.
UNDERUSING PERSONAL HEALTH RECORD CAPABILITIES
Missed opportunities to improve health care coordination, quality, safety and cost effectiveness
Minneapolis (August 1, 2006) A nationwide survey of a cross section of Americans reveals that a relatively small number of people use online personal health records to organize their comprehensive health history, despite the growing availability, ease of use and security of this new health tool. The use of such data has been regarded as valuable in helping to improve individual health and is important given the increasing fragmentation of health care delivery and recognition that medical errors result from poor coordination of health care interventions. According to the survey, commissioned by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) and conducted by Harris Interactive®, only 7 percent of U.S. adults use online personal health records and 35 percent of people surveyed were not even aware this resource technology exists.
We know from experience that consumer friendly, integrated and comprehensive health records result in more informed, safer and cost-effective decisions between patients and their health care professionals. This is especially true when information is needed during emergencies, at night or on weekends when other sources of information may not be available, said Archelle Georgiou, M.D., executive vice president of Specialized Care Services, a UnitedHealth Group business, and a specialist trained in internal medicine. These survey results clearly demonstrate that while important capabilities now exist, consumers need to be better educated about the availability and value of personal health records and encouraged to use them, Georgiou added.
Improved Quality and Safety
In a related recent development, the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) announced that 1.5 million adverse drug events occur each year. Among its conclusions, the IOM suggested that patients should learn to keep careful records of all the medications they are taking and providers should take steps to educate, consult with, and listen to patients.
Commenting on this issue, Brian Zelickson, M.D., a dermatologist with Skin Specialists, Ltd., in Minneapolis, Minn., said: Patients who see different doctors for different reasons often have a variety of tests and have often been prescribed multiple medications. Most cant recall the details of their recent medical history. When a patient can provide a comprehensive copy of their recent medical history for an appointment, it gives a better picture of a persons full care, which saves time, increases patient safety and
improves the overall quality of care. For example, I can avoid duplicate testing and can prescribe medication that wont interfere with other drugs the patient is already taking.
Enhanced Convenience and Control
Health plans and other involved parties are increasingly working to develop and provide individuals with access to secure, online records of their medical history. UnitedHealth Groups online Personal Health Record, which individuals can access anytime through the companys secure member portal, myuhc.com®, uses health claim information as the basis for a comprehensive summary of an individuals medical condition, medication history, significant medical interventions and laboratory results. In addition, the Personal Health Record information can be augmented by the patient entering details such as allergies, immunization status and family history. Information from the UnitedHealth Group Personal Health Record is also directly available to medical professionals caring for the individual through secure online access anywhere in the United States with patient consent.
Another key finding of the survey was the observation that 55 percent of those who do not use an online Personal Health Record cite security as their main concern. We understand that some people are anxious about the security of their health records, and we at UnitedHealth Group have taken precautionary measures to ensure that online personal information is secure and to protect it against unauthorized access, said Reed V. Tuckson, M.D., senior vice president, Consumer Health and Medical Care Advancement, UnitedHealth Group. We are very encouraged by and supportive of the advancement of national standards and legislation to create industry-wide criteria and protections for this vital health-enhancing information.