Last week, Kaiser Permanente announced that all of its 431 medical offices and 36 hospitals are now equipped with Kaiser Permanente's HealthConnect electronic health record (EHR) system which is based on an Epic Systems EHR.
As noted by its press release, "The comprehensive health information system securely connects more than 8.6 million people to their physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, personal information, and the latest medical knowledge. Combined with Kaiser Permanente's integrated approach to health care, KP HealthConnect helps facilitate collaboration among both primary and specialty care teams."
Furthermore, "... KP HealthConnect also empowers patients to manage their own health. My Health Manager on kp.org provides secure access to a personal health record that includes shared access to the KP HealthConnect clinical record and tools designed to help members connect to the people and services they need to stay healthy. Through My Health Manager, Kaiser Permanente members have timely access to their lab test results, medication information and refill capabilities, summaries of their health conditions, and other important health information at just the click of a mouse. The technology also allows members to securely e-mail their doctor, often saving them the inconvenience of having to go to a physician's office, or wait on hold to speak with a doctor on the phone. More than 3 million Kaiser Permanente members are using My Health Manager, with more than 27 million logins to the system documented in 2009 alone."
Kaiser Permanente also received 12 Stage 7 and one Stage 6 Awards from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society last week. The Stage 7 Award is given to hospitals that have achieved the highest level EHR implementation as represented on an 8 stage EHR adoption maturity model. Less than 1 percent of US hospitals are considered to be at Stage 7.
Kaiser has not said when it expects all of its 36 hospitals to be at a Stage 7 level.
Kaiser's EHR journey began a long time ago (40 plus years by its reckoning (see its video here)) and has been marked by many false starts and setbacks. For instance, in 2003, after spending over $400 million, Kaiser terminated its Clinical Information System (CIS) EHR project with IBM to start anew with Epic Systems.
Kaiser Permanente's EHR system which supports 8.6 million patients is, I believe, the largest private EHR system in the world and rivals that of the the US Veterans Administration (around 8 million) and Department of Defense (around 9.3 million). I don't who has the second largest private EHR system, but I suspect it is much, much smaller in size.
It will be interesting to see whether Kaiser's EHR system will ever be "bested" in terms of a privately funded, controlled and totally integrated EHR system development given the move towards more Internet-based EHR solutions being offered.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.