Medibank reveals details of healthbook uptake
Health insurer Medibank has reported a pleasing uptake of its new healthbook personally controlled health record, with eight per cent of its target group using the new service regularly since its launch at the end of May.
The development of healthbook was one of the projects funded by the federal government as part of the Wave 2 sites for the implementation of the PCEHR. Initially targeting members with chronic illnesses who take part in one of Medibank's Better Health programs, the plan is to connect it to the national PCEHR infrastructure and to broaden the offering to other Medibank customers, particularly the parents of young children.
Medibank's CIO, Terry Snyders, said the company had specifically targeted a group of about 16,000 members who were on a Better Health program, which provides a range of services such as nurse-led telephone counselling for people with chronic illnesses. To date, approximately eight per cent of that group were using the service and most of them were using it multiple times, which Mr Snyders said was a pleasing result.
“They are an interesting membership group because they tend to be more elderly and we were fascinated by their acceptance of an internet-based health book,” Mr Snyders said.
“We were interested in this group and wondered what the take up would be. They are certainly a group that interacts well with our nurses through telephonic coaching who help them cope with their goals and what they want to achieve. It was a really good case study group from a number of angles – uptake, frequency of usage, and also allowing the nurses to interact with them and allowing nurses's notes on healthbook.”
healthbook is also playing a part in the wider national eHealth records infrastructure as the nurses all have registered for a Health Provider Identifier – Individual (HPI-I), and the members using healthbook use the national Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) system.
“Initially when you register, you have to register for an IHI so we do that electronically for the customer,” Mr Snyders said. “They provide identity and we give them through Medicare the automatic IHI registration. That then gets them into their healthbook and they are then able to populate their healthbook with some personal details – emergency contacts, health provider contacts, medications they are on, allergies, immunisations etc.
“They can also record their health goals and any health records or health history. And when they work with our nurses around their particular illness or situation, their nurse's notes are included on the healthbook as well. The nurse takes notes through the conversation and we take a snapshot of those notes and put them into the healthbook.”
healthbook has three sections – the medical profile, which includes health details such as current conditions and medications; the nurses' notes, which includes a summary of conversations between the individual and their Medibank nurse; and health goals, which lists targets such as weight loss or blood pressure measurements set by a doctor or nurse.
Users can decided who has access to each section of the healthbook, and they can also print out the record when they are travelling or seeing a new doctor. The idea is to bring together the member's Better Health records and their basic medical information together in the one place.
Apart from the nurses' notes, the customer loads their medical information themselves, Mr Snyders said. healthbook is not yet connected to the national infrastructure as Medibank decided to take a “conservative route” and use it internally for the time being, he said, but it has been designed to connect to the PCEHR.
He said the healthbook should be seen as a natural extension of the PCEHR. “The journey on digitising health is not a sprint – it's a long-distance exercise,” he said. “We've done the first part – we've completed what we wanted to do and have established that there is a fair amount of interest in using it.
“The next step for us is to connect to the national grid and initially not be a supplier of information but to connect and take information from the national grid. There's a wealth of information out there that could be available through Medicare – PBS and MBS information – and there could be other information out there that we could make available to our members.
“Then we could extend healthbook into the member's claims history and then into other areas such as digital information like radiology and pathology. I think that what you'll see over the next 18 months is a continual program of work that will extend the healthbook into a more meaningful and comprehensive record of the person's health journey.”
healthbook has been built internally by Medibank with the assistance of IBM, which provided architecture and design guidance, and it has been built to allow additional functionality in future. There are definite plans to build an app to allow users to access their healthbook through a smartphone, as well as potentially upload information from medical devices such as blood glucose and blood pressure monitors.
Mr Snyders said Medibank had already released an app for making claims, along with popular consumer apps such as Symptom Checker and Energy Balancer. “For us the next steps will be about getting connected to the national grid and broadening the type of information that we can provide. And then the next step will be getting it on to a smartphone device and making it a lot more mobile.”
Posted in Australian eHealth