Health plan Kaiser Permanente has introduced an Android application to allow patients to access their electronic health records.
Health plan Kaiser Permanente has launched an Android version of its electronic health record platform to allow patients to access their medical data on the popular Google-powered devices.
KP is a health insurer with member facilities in nine states and the District of Columbia, although it is concentrated in the western states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.
The Android application allows patients to view a portion of their health record as well as most lab tests. It also includes messaging capabilities, so patients can email doctors, book appointments and fill prescriptions directly from the native tool.
In addition, the app enables patients to search for KP medical facilities in their area using GPS functionality.
The full HealthConnect EHR platform stores patients' records from hospitals, radiologists, laboratories and pharmacies. It also enables doctors to store data on bedside documentation, clinical decision support and bar codes for medication.
KP plans to follow up the Android app with an iPhone version in the next several months. Meanwhile, iPhone users can access a mobile-optimized version of KP.
Accessing personal health info on mobile devices can have a positive impact on members, said KP executives.
"The benefits of mobile extend beyond member engagement," Philip Fasano, executive vice president and CIO of KP, said in a statement. "Mobile solutions can have a positive impact on health."
In addition to health, using the mobile apps can also lead to improved relationships between doctors and patients, added Christine Paige, senior vice president of marketing and Internet services for KP, in a statement.
"Now we will extend our entire connectivity toolkit for patients through a mobile phone," said Paige.
The new Android EHR app will be a "springboard" for additional mobile apps in the coming months, said Fasano.
As for security features, the mobile app includes secure sign-on and automatic sign-out if the KP site determines the user is inactive.
KP now has 9 million patients, the company reports. It announced its Android application on Jan. 24.
Other health IT vendors such as Epocrates offer mobile versions of their EHR application. In July 2011, it launched Epocrates EHR to enable practices of 10 or fewer physicians to access health records from the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and the Web. Epocrates also plans iPad and Android versions.
GE has an Advance-Mobile edition of its Centricity EHR platform for the Apple iPad, and another software developer, Drchrono, also offers an EHR app for iPads. The Drchrono app incorporates speech-to-text functionality.
Meanwhile, Microsoft now offers a Windows Phone 7 version of HealthVault, its personal health record application.
In July 2011, KP launched KP Locator for iPhone, which allows patients to find a facility in the KP health system using the Apple device's GPS feature. The company also offers an app called Every Body Walk to encourage walking and fitness activity.
"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," said George Halvorson, chairman and chief CEO of KP, in a statement. "It is time to make health information easily accessible from mobile devices."
Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company, FOXNews.com, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents, ScientificAmerican.com, USA Weekend and Womansday.com, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.