Electronic health record vendor Practice Fusion has launched an online tool in its Patient Fusion personal health portal to enable patients to track their medical spending.
Announced May 22, the spending tool aggregates users' account information similarly to that of Intuit's Mint.com. Now in beta, it uses graphics to track patients' spending and provides automatic insurance claim updates. From patients' health information and family health bills pulled from health insurers' databases, Patient Fusion can show how much is remaining on deductibles, and display outstanding credits or payments, including remaining out-of-pocket costs for in and out of network.
The cost of health care is greater than that of groceries, according to a May 22 Medical Index study by consulting and actuarial firm Milliman, which used data from the United States Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. For a family of four, yearly costs of benefits increased 6.3 percent, to $22,030 in 2013 from $20,728 the previous year.
Keeping track of spending allows patients to better allocate their flexible spending dollars and determine how much future doctor's office visits will cost, according to Practice Fusion.
"We've given patients transparency into the quality of doctor they see, and now we're offering that same visibility into their health spending," Ryan Howard, CEO of Practice Fusion, said in a statement. "As a company, we believe patients must be empowered to make informed decisions about their own health."
Practice Fusion will offer the features to members of the health plans Aetna, Anthem, Blue Shield of California, Cigna, Humana, Medicare, Oxford and United Healthcare.
Mobile tools such as those from Castlight also enable patients to manage their health care costs as well as shop for health care. Castlight's software-as-a-service (SaaS) management suite is a medical shopping tool available on Apple iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices. Castlight Pharmacy lets consumers search for the best prices on prescriptions.
A site called Simplee also allows patients to track medical bills.
In addition to launching a spending tool, Practice Fusion redesigned the Health Center section of the Patient Fusion portal to provide clearer information on lab results and enhance navigation around the site. Patient Fusion now features sections for patient records, appointments, insurance info, provider search and other resources.
Launched April 9, the Patient Fusion portal provides patients with access to their personal health records and shows which medical claims have been accepted or rejected. Patient Fusion also allows users to search a provider directory of 27,312 doctors based on specialty and location.
"It's crazy that you can find quality restaurants easier than quality doctors. We're changing that today," Howard said.
Patient Fusion also features more than 1.5 million patient reviews of providers.
In addition, Patient Fusion allows users to monitor their data on immunizations and allergies as well as access post-visit instructions from doctors.
Patient Fusion connects with Practice Fusion's free, Web-based electronic health record (EHR) platform managed by physicians.
In a May 16 blog post, Practice Fusion announced enhancements to the allergy details screen within the EHR application. Doctors can now use graphical buttons to choose the Severity and indicate multiple reactions using a type-ahead search.