PHRs Help Patients Manage Their Health
MedFlash, a device to store personal health records, provides patients with the capabilities to manage their health information.
Personal health records (PHRs)are touted as a new technologyconvenience for patients. Yet,the use of electronic PHRs remainslow, according to the May 2008 MarkleFoundation survey. The report indicatedthat only 2.7% (representing about6.1 million adults) have an electronicPHR. A majority (57.3%) do not keepany form of PHRs. The good news isthat 46.5% (about 106 million individuals)said they would be interested inusing an online PHR service.
Palm City, Florida?based ConnectyxTechnologies Holdings Group Inc is hopingto bridge the gap with its confidentialand easy-to-use flash drive thatallows patients to manage their ownhealth information electronically. CalledMedFlash, the device stores personalhealth information on a 2-in portableflash drive with access throughthe Internet to register and maintain alldetails of a PHR. The device retails for$34.95 and requires a yearly $12.95 subscriptionfee.
"We are on the cutting edge of healthcare technology, and we want to provideconsumers a very manageable and affordableway to handle their personal healthrecord," said Ronn Schuman, presidentand chief executive officer for the company."It [MedFlash] allows users to easilykeep their history, medication records,treatments, and lifestyle routines up-todateon a device that they can carry withthem."
In June 2007, the company acquiredthe assets of MedFlash LLC. The ownerof the Oklahoma City company developedMedFlash for his wife who wasdiabetic. Schuman described the originalproduct as a very simple programto store health information. A year laterConnectyx deployed a completely newproduct. The goal is to develop a 3-tierapproach. Tier 1 is the currently availableportable flash drive containing healthinformation that individuals can carrywith them. Tier 2 is the ability to accessthe information via the MedFlash Website (www.mymedflash.com). The companyis planning for access capabilitiesfrom cell phones and personal digitalassistants. The final tier, which will beavailable later this year, will allow usersto call a toll-ree number 24 hours a day,to access their health information. Thistier requires no Internet or flash drive asall members are given an indentification(ID) card with an emergency ID accessnumber.
The Web-based portal not only givesindividuals the ability to keep their medicalhistory, but gives them the ability todownload magnetic resonance imaging,x-rays, and a host of other medicaland lifestyle information. Schuman saidMedFlash can help save lives and recommendsthe product for "all walks oflife," including individuals traveling onvacation or for work, expectant mothers,and attaching it to a child's car seat.For individuals who are not computersavvy, a relative or caregiver can updateMedFlash. The company also has a tollfreenumber to call for questions from8:30
Monday throughFriday and 24-hour online support.
Privacy is an important component ofMedFlash. Users have the option to blockindividuals from seeing information. Ifaccessing MedFlash via the Web site, animage of a lock is located next to each fieldwhere data is entered, with the option tolock or unlock the information. If accessingthe information using a USB port, there is a"Make Private" check box on each screenthat can be clicked to keep private. Thecompany recommends with both optionsthat if any medical or lifestyle information isimportant for an emergency responder toknow,that the informationremainunlocked.
In the eventof an emergency,first responders andhospitals can accessthe PHR by pluggingMedFlashinto a USB port andclicking on the text file "MyMedData.txt." They can use any text editor or anyword processorto access the file andreview a patient'shealth record. If thedata are being accessed by the Website, individuals should fill out the cardthat comes with their MedFlash. Thecard directs health care providers tovisit www.Med-Flash.com to find criticalinformation and click on "EmergencyPatient Access" and enter the patient'semergency ID code.
The niche product recently becameavailable at Kroger Co locations inColumbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, andnorthern Kentucky. The product isavailable at pharmacy counters andis the first electronic PHR device theCincinnati-based supermarket operatoroffers, according to spokeswomanRachel Betzler. MedFlash also will soonbe available at select Fred Meyer stores,a division of Kroger Co.
As a commercially available PHR,MedFlash will be part of a PHR studyconducted by Brigham and Women'sHospital and Harvard Medical School."We were recently contacted by aresearch team that is reviewing thefeatures and benefits of commerciallyavailable PHRs," said Schuman. AdamWright, one of the researchers leadingthe study, said, "Our goal is to learn whatfeatures devices on the market have andhow they work."