Wow. I’m with Kaiser. Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest Health Maintenance Organization, has been my preferred HMO anytime I’ve worked somewhere that offered it. Today it was announced that Kaiser, in partnership with Microsoft, “is endorsing the drive toward consumer-controlled personal health records.”
The partnership, announced Monday, will begin with a pilot project open to Kaiser’s 156,000 employees, which will run until November. If successful, the product linking Kaiser’s patient information with Microsoft’s Health Vault personal health-record service will be offered to Kaiser’s 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia.
Kaiser has been using the internet for its services for several years.
…[T]he Kaiser move, analysts say, is significant because of California-based health company’s size and its reputation as an innovative user of information technology. In the mid-1990s, Kaiser began offering its members the ability to ask health questions to nurses over the Web. In the last few years, it has gone much further with its Web-based My Health Manager personal health record, which enables patients to make appointments, e-mail questions to doctors and place prescription orders online.
Okay, the Kaiser offices where I go? I’d say 80% of the people are older. Of course, I cannot say definitively, but if my mother were any indication, older people have no idea how the internet works for them or they call up their kids and get them to get the information. So perhaps this plan isn’t so much for them as for the Kaiser members, existing and future, who are more internet savvy. I can’t bring myself to think that the plan won’t be totally effective until the older members… Gah! I can’t even type it.
Further, I’m fairly computer savvy and I’ve tried using My Health Manager to make appointments. The time lag is not something I care for. The convenience still lies with calling Kaiser’s appointment line and getting what I need then, like during my lunch hour. The same goes for e-mailing questions or concerns to my doctor. On at least one occasion, I’ve had a hilariously slapstick e-mail string indicating that neither my doctor nor I understood what was requested and what could be supplied. Of course, the system should get better as it’s put to more material use by Kaiser and its members, but they’ve had a system ramping up since the mid-1990s, and, well, I’m not particularly happy with it.
Kaiser chose Microsoft over Google, which offers the same kind of computerized management system, because Microsoft has better security. Whatever. If someone wants to hack it, it’ll be hacked. Or Skynet becomes self-aware, and Sarah and John can’t destroy it before it decides my kidney problems aren’t worth the money expended and sends T-1000s to terminate me and my ilk.
But that’s just paranoid.