New Jersey health system offers consumers 'hybrid PHR'

From the mHealthNews archive
By Molly Merrill
09:33 pm

Virtua, the largest comprehensive healthcare system in Southern New Jersey, announced Wednesday it is offering a free online personal health record – one that its founder calls a "hybrid PHR" - to consumers living in the three counties that it serves.  

Virtua will offer PHRs from Princeton, N.J.-based Zweena for one year to consumers in Gloucester, Camden and Burlington counties in South Jersey. 

The decision to provide the PHRs was part of CIO Alfred Campanella's strategic plan of making the health system more digitally integrated, according to John Phelan, CEO of Zweena.

"Virtua believes PHRs can play a critical role in enhancing patient health.  We want to make personal health record collection as easy as possible to our local community," said Campanella.  "We selected Zweena based on their expertise in digitizing patient health records, and their consumer-friendly patient portal, which makes it easy for a patient to obtain their records and keep vital health information current."

Phelan calls Zweena's PHRs "hybrid" because the application goes on behalf of the consumer to collect the records from the doctor's office, digitize them and turn them into structured data sets.

"I tried to do my own PHR and found it frustrating, "says Phelan. "I knew that we needed to do this."

The only responsibility on the patient's end is that they have to let Zweena know through an appointment application when they see their provider so that it can update their records, he says.  Other than that, "the patient doesn't touch it. It is not consumer involved at all."  And although, consumers can share their PHRs with family or friends they can only view them not alter them.

Patients must use the Zweena application initially to access their PHRs, but can then access them using Microsoft HealthVault.

When the free one-year period is over for Virtua consumers, Phelan says they can choose whether to purchase an entry package (or family package) that will allow them up to four connections (connections either being family member or providers) with unlimited amount of visits for $49.95 or they can choose a single connection for $24.99. For those that have more than 10 connections it is $199 a year.

As for future plans for the PHR, Phelan says that at some point the company might look at how consumers can add nontraditional information like their exercise regimen. He says the company also wants the platform to be interoperable with electronic medical records. 

Consumers living in Gloucester, Camden, and Burlington counties can go to to register for their free PHR.


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