Blue cross blue shield signs up to online google health platform

Blue cross blue shield signs up to online google health platform

US health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) has announced a new venture with Google Health that will allow its 3 million members to store and share their claims data via an online service that is safe and secure, making BCBSMA the first health insurer to sign an agreement to integrate with the new Google platform.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a federation of 39 independent, locally operated insurers covering some 100 million Americans.

The new Google Health service, launched a few weeks ago, allows users to create their own Personal Health Record (PHR) in which they store and organize their medical records in a secure online Google account. When this is integrated with the BCBSMA system, members will be able to import their claims data into their Google PHR safely and securely, without having to re-key it.

Chairman and CEO of BCBSMA, Cleve Killingsworth, said:

"We believe Google Health will be an important tool used by our members to improve the safety and effectiveness of their health care."

Killingsworth said the partnership showed the company's continuing leadership in using technology to improve health care, adding to the commitment already shown in BCBSMA's funding of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative and helping to found the Massachusetts eRx Collaborative.

BCBSMA's Vice President of Provider Network Management, Steven Fox, explained that the company's members had asked for "easier and more portable access to their health care information".

"Having this information in one place can play an important role in managing a member's health and helping members and their doctors make health care decisions that can improve the quality of care they receive," said Fox.

Unless they are extremely well organized, the task of looking after personal health information is beginning to be a nightmare for the average American patient trying to manage a plethora of test results; contact details of doctors and specialists at various different clinics and hospitals; appointment schedules and visits; prescriptions; claims data; essential drug information; and so on. The shoe box just isn't big enough.

Thus the ability to provide a PHR system that is easy to use, keeps all your information safe and private and in one place, and allows you to import and share data securely without re-keying, re-writing or photocopying, appears to be an emerging trend among US health insurers keen to add attractive member services, with several of the big providers teaming up with computer companies. Recently Kaiser Permanente announced they are integrating their My Health Manager patient information system with Microsoft's HealthVault consumer health platform.

Although a number of health services providers have already signed up with Google Health, such as Cleveland Clinic, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Walgreens, CVS/CareMark, Minute Clinic, Medco, Longs Drugs and RxAmerica, BCBSMA is the first health insurer to do so.

BCBSMA expects the integration with Google Health to be completed in the Fall of 2008, they announced in a press statement.

The Google Health platform is a free service, and anyone can open an account, but when the integration with BCBSMA is complete, only BCBSMA members will be able to import their claims information into their Google account and decide with whom they wish to share it.

Once the two systems are working together, Google Health will allow BCBSMA members to:

  • Organize, store and manage BCBSMA claims data and their PHR data online in one secure location.
  • Download medical records and prescription history from retail pharmacies, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), labs and doctors, as long as they are also securely connected to Google Health.
  • Share their medical information with providers and or third party services of their choice.
  • Research and learn about important health issues and potential drug-to-drug interactions.
  • Be alerted when a drug they are researching using Google Health may not be compatible with one they are already taking.
  • Find a doctor or hospital using powerful online search tools.
BCBSMA members will be able to delete their Google Health profile any time, and the two companies said members should be assured that their information will not be sold to or shared with third parties "without the user's explicit consent".

Click here to learn more about Google Health.

Click here to learn more about Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Source: BCBSMA via Business Wire press release.

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