Discovery debuts e-health record app

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 14 Jun 2012

Discovery Health has rolled out HealthID, the first electronic health record application of its kind in SA.

The company says the new app puts patients' health records in their doctors' hands, adding that electronic health records are at the heart of the application, where clinical information derived from claims data and pathology laboratories is stored.

With HealthID, doctors are able to access their patients' data and details of their previous doctors and hospital visits. Doctors can also view previously prescribed medicines, blood test results and patients' health measures such as body mass index and blood pressure.

Dr Jonathan Broomberg, Discovery Health CEO, says, at present, doctors can access HealthID on an iPad, but the app is being developed with Samsung for use on the Android operating system. Ultimately, he adds, HealthID will be platform-neutral and available on all mainstream hardware and software platforms.

He also explains that the system is free for doctors and Discovery Health members.

“The app itself is free, and data while using the app is paid for by Discovery Health. Doctors do need to have their own iPads, and Discovery Health is providing an interest-free loan over 24 months to those doctors who wish to purchase a new iPad.”

He also points out that the data is collected from the claims Discovery Health receives from members, health professionals and hospitals, as well health data from Vitality such as BMI and cholesterol levels.

“In addition, the pathology laboratories provide pathology results on Discovery Health members. The HealthID medical records are then consolidated and presented in a usable form through HealthID.”

He adds that an important aspect of HealthID is the protection of patients' right to privacy, as only doctors can register for and access HealthID using a unique login username and password. He adds that the information is not stored on the iPad, but on Discovery Health's servers, and once the doctor logs out, no one can access the information.

“Further, members must give express consent to an individual doctor before he/she can access their information and can revoke consent at any point. This is to ensure members' confidentially is respected.”

Broomberg says Discovery was concerned with the growing problems of fragmentation between all the role players within the health system.

“Doctors, hospitals, pathology and radiology are all separate practices, and this results in lack of co-ordination, and limited or no sharing of critical health information that would enable doctors to make more informed decisions or reduce inefficiency in the system,” he explains.

“For example, doctors not having a view of the medicine their patients are on, or patients not having their pathology results with them, which requires repeat testing.”

He believes HealthID will address these issues by making a detailed electronic health record available to doctors treating Discovery Health members.

“In addition, the administrative burden on doctors has been cited as a key concern among doctors, and HealthID will significantly reduce the paperwork and processes involved with interacting with the medical scheme as well other role players in the health system.”

Says Adrian Gore, Discovery CEO: “Our vision is that HealthID will do for the healthcare sector what the ATM did for banking.”

Discovery Health also states that Emergency HealthID will be made available to Discovery Health members in the near future.

According to the company, this is a quick response (QR) code-based identifier for each individual covered by Discovery Health.

It adds that members can place QR code stickers on their cars, phones or children's lunch boxes. In the event of an emergency, authorised paramedics will be able to scan the QR code, and gain potentially lifesaving information on the identity of the patient, next of kin, allergies and other critical health information.