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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


It isn’t often that I get a chance to talk about a company that collects your name and private information and do it on a purely positive note. If the business I am talking about is assembling your personal medical data, my skepticism and curiosity both rise significantly. The skepticism part wasn’t necessary, but my curiosity got the best of me when I learned about yet another Personal Health Records Provider (PHR)., headquartered in Los Angeles, “seeks to empower health care consumers and medical professionals by facilitating access to consumer medical records and associated vital documents (such as living wills, birth certificates and insurance policies).” Founded in 2005, “Our Mission is to give consumers greater control over their personal health and medical records, as well as other vital information.” It was the “give consumers greater control” phrase on their website that caught my eye, and led me to an intensive inspection of just how the company operated.

I was both surprised and elated by the transparency of their representative, Scott Smith, MMR’s Director of Public Relations. Starting with a comment on this blog’s recent post series, “How Long Before We Accept Inevitability of Personal Health Records Databases? Part 3,” Scott very diplomatically introduced me to MMR, which I had somehow missed in my research of PHRs. It had been my loss because over the period of a couple of weeks, I found a company that started its business by first making sure consumer privacy issues were firmly dealt with, which is unheard of in the junk mail business where I come from. With that in place, they went on to develop a program that deserves your attention if you are searching for a PHR.

To begin, MMR requires all record input via fax or file upload. Fax eliminates the risk of transmitting data over the Internet, but their browser does support 256 bits of encryption. Accounts are secured by a unique combination of user ID and password, and protected from multiple attempts to open an account. MMR employees have no access to any information, and I am assured there is a complete purge of data, including backup storage, when a participant cancels. This kind of company—compared to doctors and hospitals—is not subject to HIPAA, but MMR still conforms to its guidelines.

In a study by MyMedicalRecords comparing its features to Microsoft’s HealthVault, the service offered by MMR is fully integrated with a multiplicity of tools that allow the person to manage their personal health care information, including actual copies of medical records. According to the study, HV is like a centrally located computer server connecting to an array of third party service providers, each requiring individual set up and coordination.

There are other important comparisons. First, the HV sign-up involves 4 steps compared to MMR’s single step. Although HealthVault as a stand alone is free, many of their third party services you might want or require are not. Added together they could total $407 per year, and include CapMed Online, Peakworks fitness management, eSound Health Food Journal, CapMed Ice, which allows Physicians to access emergency information, and the MySelfHelp module dealing with grief and depression.

Also, HealthVault does not accept the faxing of documents from third party providers for things like lab tests, radiology reports, patient charts, but MMR does. None of HV’s third party services offers voice mail or a built-in drug interaction tool which come with a MyMedicalRecords account.

There’s more and we’ll get to it in the next post.


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