Press Releases: Northern California
April 15, 2009
Kaiser Permanente Introduces Portable Electronic Medical Records
Members have the flexibility to take their medical information wherever they travel, offering convenience, safety and peace of mind
OAKLAND, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente members now have the luxury of taking their medical information with them wherever they go — and they can do it in a “flash.”
Kaiser Permanente is offering its Northern California members a portable electronic record that is stored on a flash drive so they can take their health information with them on business trips or vacations. These lightweight, thumb-sized digital memory devices contain accurate, up-to-date summary information about a member’s health and medical condition — and it’s in a format that virtually any physician with access to a computer can open and read.
To safeguard privacy, the data on the drive is encrypted and protected with a password that only the patient knows. This allows for complete privacy in case the drive is lost or stolen.
“Combining the Portable Electronic Medical Record flash drive with our comprehensive electronic medical record allows the physicians of Kaiser Permanente to provide 21st century health care to our members," says Dr. Robert Pearl, executive director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group. "Having a patient's medical history, EKG and complete list of medications helps doctors provide superior medical care. This flash drive can be carried anywhere around the world, and it allows a person to receive more rapid medical treatment whether they are on vacation or traveling on business."
The device was tested at Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center last year, and nearly 600 flash drives were provided to members. Since then, Kaiser Permanente facilities throughout Northern California have started offering the device to all members.
Members can request the flash drive from the Medical Secretaries department, and it takes only a few minutes to program and obtain the drive. The fee for the drive is only $5, and medical record updates are free. The drive contains the following information:
- Patient demographics, including age, gender and ethnicity
- Language preferences
- Contact information for family and friends
- Primary care physician(s) info
- Active medical problem lists
- Immunization records
- Lab results from the past year
- Medications prescribed or refilled in the past year
- Clinic visit information with diagnoses and procedures in the past year
- Hospitalizations with diagnoses and procedures
- Most recent EKGs and chest X-rays — both readings and images.
The portable electronic medical record does not give as much detailed medical information and history as a full medical record, but it provides a treating physician with important high-level information. “This is another way that Kaiser Permanente is working to improve and maintain the health of our members,” said Dr. Thomas C. Barber, associate physician in chief, East Bay, Kaiser Permanente. “If a member isn’t in a position to receive care at a Kaiser Permanente facility, our Portable Electronic Medical Record helps treating physicians provide a more rapid and more accurate diagnosis in an emergency or urgent situation.”
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente, founded in 1945, is a non-profit integrated health care organization, with physicians, nurses and staff working in collaboration to provide high-quality care to patients and address the health care needs of communities served by the organization. The Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region serves about 3.2 million members. It includes about 7,000 physicians in The Permanente Medical Group and about 70,000 employees. The region has 20 major medical centers. In 2008, Kaiser Permanente dedicated about $532 million to a variety of community programs and agencies in Northern California. For more information, visit www.kaiserpermanente.org