Aetna Web Tool Lets Members Get Electronic Medical Records

Aetna Inc., the third-largest U.S. health insurer, said 9 million customers can more easily download electronic versions of health records from a company website as part of a government push to promote online data.

The insurer expects by next year to give its members the ability to send personal health records directly to doctors and other providers across a secure system, said Brian Kelly, head of informatics and strategic alignment for the Hartford, Connecticut-based company.

Aetna, the acquirer of health-data vendor Medicity for $500 million last year, considers the download function a way to promote customer wellness, Kelly said. The application provides suggestions on techniques to manage conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

“It will look at your data and generate suggestions,” Kelly said. “For instance, ‘we see you haven’t gotten your flu shot this year,’ or, ‘you have diabetes, and we see you have protein in your urine.’”

The service expands on the insurer’s use of personal health records in a PDF form, allowing consumers to securely download personal health information in a text file format that can easily be shared with providers or family members.

The service is part of the Obama administration’s Blue Button initiative, a set of privacy and security practices designed by the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense to promote use of personal online health data. Employers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in Bentonville, Arkansas, have signed onto the program.

UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest insurer by sales, based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, plans to offer similar records access to its seven million members by early 2012, said Matt Stearns, a spokesman.

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