General care

Barmer evaluates benefits of personal health record

4 September 2007

Barmer, Germany’s largest health insurance provider, has started evaluating the effects of the personal health record (PHR) on patient health behaviour and on healthcare delivery in a Germany-wide research study.

The eHealth specialist InterComponentWare AG (ICW), with its headquarters in Walldorf, Germany was chosen as technology partner to provide the Web-based personal health record, LifeSensor, for the three-year research study. As part of the research study, Barmer is enabling its over seven million insured customers to use the personal health record.

With the LifeSensor personal health record, Barmer is offering all its insured customers an innovative instrument that enables them to actively manage and control their health themselves. They can thus access information relevant to their healthcare online at any time. They will benefit from new applications, which otherwise would not be available until after the official deployment of the German electronic health card.

For Barmer, data privacy and security are top priority in the research study: The health insurance provider will not have access to the healthcare records of the insured. The insured alone determine who has access to their healthcare data. Physicians, pharmacists, clinics, and other providers of health services cannot access the information in the file or add to the medical information until the user grants access.

In this way, treatment can be adapted to the health status of the insured. Furthermore, the insured can utilise special Barmer consulting and health care offerings, such as the health telephone, from directly within their personal health record. That facilitates optimum customer care as well as individually designed healthcare. Starting in autumn 2007, the personal healthcare record is expected to be available to all interested Barmer customers.

Birgit Fischer, deputy chairperson of the managing board at Barmer commented on the research study: “The insured themselves can best evaluate the advantages and benefits of a personal health record and provide tips for its practical use.

Barmer wants to expand what has until now been mostly a technical discussion to include questions of application from the perspective of insured and patients and to offer the Barmer insured an opportunity to participate.”

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