Kaiser Leads Mobile Healthcare

Nearly 9 Million Kaiser Permanente Health Records Securely Available on Mobile Devices

Kaiser Permanente already has the largest electronic medical record system in the world.

The Pew Internet Project reported that 40 percent of American adults access the Internet via their mobile phones, and in some cases, mobile phones are their primary source of Internet access.

Twenty-five percent of smart-phone owners go online primarily using their phone; of these, roughly one-third have no high-speed home broadband connection.

Three months ago, the health care organization announced that 9 million Kaiser Permanente patients now can easily access their own medical information anywhere in the world on mobile devices through a mobile-optimized website.

An additional app for iPhone will be released in the coming months.  Meantime, iPhone users can download a shortcut icon to kp.org

In 2011 alone, more than 68 million lab test results were made available online to Kaiser Permanente patients.

Kaiser Permanente patients will have 24/7 access to lab results, diagnostic information…

direct and secure email access to their doctors, and will also be able to order prescription refills.

Kaiser Permanente had more than 12 million e-visits in 2011 alone, and they expect that number to rise.

The Android app is available now in the Android Market at no charge.

Users of other mobile devices can access the same set of care-support tools at no charge through the new secure, mobile-optimized member website, which is available through smart-phone Internet browsers.

Kaiser Permanente patients or family members who can act on their behalf, now have 24/7 access from their mobile devices to view their secure personal health record, email their doctors, schedule appointments, refill prescriptions and locate Kaiser medical facilities on kp.org

“This is the future of health care. 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,” said George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente.

“The fact that a Kaiser Permanente patient in an emergency room in Paris or Tokyo can simply pull out their mobile device and have immediate and current access to their own medical information is an evolutionary and revolutionary breakthrough for medical connectivity.”

“Our members love our current connectivity tools,” said Christine Paige, senior vice president of marketing and Internet services.

“Now we will extend our entire connectivity tool kit for patients through a mobile phone. Our mobile-optimized site and app take connectivity to the next level by making the mobile experience easy and enjoyable. We believe that convenience, paired with a great user experience, will meet members’ needs and will ultimately result in improved health and patient-physician relationships.”

iPHONE SHORTCUT ICON

  • Go to kp.org on your iPhone mobile Web browser
  • Click on the middle icon at the bottom of your screen
  • Choose “Add to Home Screen
  • A short cut will be added to your iPhone icons

Members using the Android app have access to their kp.org accounts by touching the app icon on their phones.

Those visiting kp.org from a mobile phone Internet browser are seamlessly redirected to the mobile-optimized website, which was designed for optimal viewing on a mobile-phone screen.

In both cases, a streamlined menu of mobile-optimized features helps members find what they need quickly and easily with minimal taps.

“Providing our patients with clear and convenient access to their health information is a step forward in connectivity and improving the health care experience for patients, no matter where they are,” saidJack Cochran, MD, executive director of The Permanente Federation.

“We already have complete connectivity among Kaiser Permanente care sites through Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®. This new level of connectivity extends the reach of information to our patients in a more convenient and user-friendly format. This new app and mobile-optimized site is very good for patient care and will revolutionize connectivity by bringing health care for the first time to the level of connectivity other parts of our economy have achieved.”

Users’ personal health information is safe and secure while using the new app and the mobile-friendly kp.org, which employ the same security safeguards that protect patient information on the traditional kp.org website, including secure sign-on and automatic sign-out after a period of inactivity.

“The benefits of mobile extend beyond member engagement,” said Philip Fasano, executive vice president and chief information officer of Kaiser Permanente.

“Mobile solutions can have a positive impact on health. Health care, itself, will be much more convenient for many people. The mobile-friendly site and app are also a springboard for new innovations that will inspire members to be aware of their health and take steps to improve it.”

“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 said.

“It is time to make health information easily accessible from mobile devices.”

This is a major new connectivity offering, but it is not Kaiser Permanente’s first mobile app. Other, more targeted tools, were released earlier. Kaiser Permanente launched its first mobile application, KP Locator for iPhone, in July 2011.

The facility-finder app has been downloaded 42,000 times.

KP Locator combines the power of kp.org’s robust facility directory and the iPhone’s GPS capabilities to make searching for Kaiser Permanente facilities fast and easy for patients on the go.

It answers three of the most basic, but vital, user questions thoroughly and simply — where are the Kaiser Permanente locations close to me, how can I contact and get to them, and what departments and services can I access there? Kaiser Permanente also released its Every Body Walk! app two months ago to help encourage people to walk and maintain healthy activity levels, and that app was rated No. 5 in the Top 100 Green Apps by Eco-Libris.

Kaiser Permanente is known for its leadership in the use of health information technology. The Kaiser Permanente electronic health record is the largest non-governmental medical record system in the world. KP HealthConnect enables all of Kaiser Permanente’s nearly 16,000 physicians to electronically access the medical records of all 8.9 million Kaiser Permanente members nationwide and serves as a model for other care systems.

Kaiser Permanente has received numerous awards for its health IT expertise, including four 2011 eHealthcare Leadership Awards.

You can learn more about how patients, clinicians and researchers are using My Health Manager and KP HealthConnect by checking out Kaiser Permanente’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/kaiserpermanenteorg. Kaiser Permanente also has what might be the world’s most complete electronic medical library to support its caregivers by providing convenient access to the best and most current medical science. That electronic medical library is for internal use only.

Nearly 9 Million Kaiser Permanente Health Records Securely Available on Mobile Devices

Kaiser Sunset Hospital in Los Angeles, CA
Kaiser Sunset Hospital in Los Angeles, CA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


WebMD Baby, a new free Apple iPhone app

A Free Source of Information and Advice for New Parents

By 
Published: January 25, 2012

Everyone wants a piece of a new parent — or, at least, the wallet of a new parent.

Baby Connect, an app for iPhone and Android, showing a graph of a baby’s daily activities.

Browse all the mobile app coverage that has appeared in The New York Times by category, and see what Times writers have on their phones and tablets.

WebMD Baby, a new iPhone app, has about 400 articles, 600 tips and 70 videos

App stores are part of that money rush. There’s mobile software that can help parents name their babies, soothe their babies, entertain their babies and speak to their babies in sign language.

The newest baby app of note on the market, though, WebMD Baby, is free, and it is arguably more practical and useful than many of the others combined.

WebMD Baby is available only on Apple devices, at least until the company releases an Android version later this year. It provides a strong complement to — if not a total replacement for — Baby Connect ($5 on Android andApple), the best mobile assistant for new parents.

Unlike Baby Connect, whose strengths and weaknesses I’ll detail in a moment, WebMD Baby comes packed with information. The app takes advantage of its parent company’s trove of medically related content to offer parents guidance on what to expect from their child’s physical and emotional development, as well as health-related counsel when things go wrong.

At the app’s core are roughly 400 articles, 600 tips and 70 videos.

For parents of a 1-year-old, for instance, the app recently offered a video question and answer with a pediatrician about top mistakes parents make with toddlers. (Hint: to properly calibrate discipline, issue one-minute “time outs” for 1-year-olds, two minutes for 2-year-olds, and so on.)

Oddly, the app doesn’t allow for full-screen video in landscape mode, but since this is a new app, I’d expect WebMD to fix this flaw quickly.

The app also presents daily and weekly packages of information aimed at helping parents understand a child’s development during the first year. Last week, the daily tip for a parent with a 3-week-old baby, for instance, offered details about what to expect at a one-month doctor’s visit. (There are packages for the child’s second year, as well, but at longer intervals.)

Some have criticized WebMD for publishing medical advice that might encourage readers to use its advertisers’ products, but I found the section on “Illnesses and Emergencies” to be generally free of specious advice. For now, at least, there is no advertising on the app.

WebMD Baby also has a “Baby Book” section, where you can record and store videos, pictures and notes of a child’s milestone moments. The videos and photos also remain in the device’s photography storage area, so they’re not held hostage by the app.

Thankfully, every page is designed in a way that would make it easy for a parent to use with one hand — while, presumably, holding a sleeping baby with the other.

One of the app’s shortcomings is that parents can’t peek in on the app from different devices and see the latest information. If you log information into WebMD Baby from aniPhone and then your spouse logs onto the app from an iPod Touch, for instance, it won’t show her the information you entered in the iPhone.

With Baby Connect, however, such an arrangement would work nicely. Even if you have an Android phone and your spouse has an iPhone, any time you enter new information into the app, those changes will appear on your spouse’s app the next time it’s opened.

Baby Connect lacks the information and advice that makes WebMD Baby so valuable, but it has more tracking options than its competitor. The app prompts you to create a separate page for each child. From there, parents and caregivers can track mood and activities, as well as health-related items like vaccines, temperature and medicines.

If you’d like to simply remember where you were at a given moment with the baby — so you can remember their first public tantrum, perhaps — the “My Location” button will make a record of it.

The app is generally easy to use, and it includes a helpful summary page for each child so you can scan recent entries at a glance.

That said, it can be difficult at times to understand the app’s internal logic. Seven main features are included on a child’s home page, including “Medical.” (Additional features are expected in an updated version the company plans to release this week.) When pressed, the Medical button yields a list of items like weight, or vaccines.

Alongside those main buttons on the child’s home page is one titled “More,” which leads to another screen of items like nursing, solid food and, again, vaccines. Unlike the vaccine section found through the child’s home page, though, this one includes a list of common inoculations.

If you choose one from the list, thereby indicating that your children received that particular vaccine, the app will record the event in the other “Vaccine” location. That’s helpful, but it would be much simpler to offer the list of vaccines in the original “Medical” section.

New parents have enough to figure out. They don’t need to add tricky software to the list.

Yet Baby Connect remains a more fully featured app for new parents than WebMD Baby. For people who are approaching parenthood for the first time, and who have a tendency toward extreme organization, Baby Connect is a good complement to WebMD Baby.

Otherwise, I’d leave space for WebMD Baby and feel grateful for a moment’s respite from spending money on parenting products.

Quick Calls

Fans of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine should check out Only the Pearls ($4 foriPad), which includes 250 strips, 12 animated strips and video interviews with the author. … Want a ballpark estimate of your tax refund? Consider TaxCaster by TurboTax (free onAndroid and Apple). … Asteroids Gunner (free on Apple) is a well-executed reprise of the classic Atari arcade game.

A version of this article appeared in print on January 26, 2012, on pageB6 of the New York edition with the headline: A Free Source of Information and Advice for New Parents.