Kaiser's PHR online for all members

Despite the major technology investment, the company posts a doubling of its operating income.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Nov. 26, 2007

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Kaiser Permanente has announced the systemwide launch of My Health Record, a personal health record directly linked to its $4 billion electronic medical record system, HealthConnect. The company is also reporting that its operating income more than doubled from a year ago.

Both announcements come nearly a year after a self-proclaimed whistle-blower reported that the EMR project was doomed and the company was positioned to lose $7 billion over the next two years, $3 billion from the EMR project alone.

The Oakland, Calif.-based organization also announced layoffs in its IT department.

Kaiser has been launching the PHR to specific regions over the past few years. Before the systemwide launch, more than 1.6 million members had signed on to the program, which allows patients to e-mail physicians, look up lab results, schedule appointments and review medical records. The launch will make the system available to more than 8.7 million patients, making it the largest PHR in the country, Kaiser said.

According to Kate Christensen, MD, FACP, medical director for, the online site where patients register for the PHR, the most-used feature in My Health Record has been viewing of lab results. The least-used feature has been viewing past office visits.

Dr. Christiansen said it is likely Kaiser will also partner with Microsoft, which launched a PHR that can connect to physician and hospital EMRs and offers smart technology it hopes will promote use.

Despite the major investment -- a scrapped EMR plan that cost the company $442 million in 2002 and the HealthConnect project that was $2 billion over budget -- and the challenges in getting Kaiser's electronic record systems up and running, the company managed to double its operating income from $868 million in the first three quarters of 2006 to $1.8 billion so far this year.

Kaiser also announced a "workforce realignment" that would result in laying off about 2% of its 5,600-strong IT staff. A statement released by Kaiser spokeswoman Susannah Patton said the company is attempting to match affected employees with open positions in the organization.

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