Patient-Partner Association uses Web-based health record LifeSensor for electronic data exchange in Bavarian medical network

Walldorf 19 October 2005The Patient-Partner Association (PPV) and the German statutory health insurance AOK Bavaria have concluded a novel, GP-based agreement on integrated care, which for the first time requires electronic communication between the participating physicians and patients. The physicians' network with over 300 linked medical experts uses the Internet-based health record LifeSensor by the German eHealth company InterComponentWare AG (ICW) for this purpose.

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In the on-line health record LifeSensor, the attending PPV physicians have access to the copies of their patient's health data provided by other physicians of the association. This data includes diagnoses, medications, allergies, vaccinations as well as check-up and lab results. As the "owner" of the on-line record, the patient decides which physicians may access his data, change or delete it. Patients who cannot or do not want to grant these authorizations themselves can ask their physician, pharmacist or another representative to assign these access authorizations. This method has proven itself due to the high degree of trust the patients place in the PPV physicians.

Dr. Elmar Schmid, initiator of the PPV, stated: "With the personal health record LifeSensor, the linked GPs and medical specialists can access extensive patient information for the first time in a joint on-line database. Pharmacists, physiotherapists and nursing staff can also access certain information in the record, which they are authorized to view. We are thus already using essential advantages of digital communication between health service providers and patients in the Patient-Partner Association today, which are so far first scheduled nationwide for the second expansion stage of the electronic health card."

The fast information exchange also facilitates the establishment of special medical offices: some general practitioners in the PPV concentrate on the treatment of relatively rare diseases like chronic lesions or severe cardiac insufficiency. Other physicians in the association then refer their patients with these rare diseases to the specialists. These document their treatment in a special protocol in the personal health record LifeSensor so that the GP is always informed about the latest therapy status.

The higher case rate and the associated specialization could contribute to significant improvements in the care quality for rare diseases and prevent unnecessary inpatient stays. PPV physicians can compile an individual care team for patients requiring ambulant care, which may for example consist of an ambulant nurse and a physiotherapist or an ergotherapist. The conversations with the care team are documented in a case protocol in the health record. Afterwards, the care services can set up a current care protocol in the health record based on their patient visits, which the attending physician can access.

Besides better and faster care, patients insured with AOK who conclude the novel agreement on integrated care have additional advantages thanks to the optimized communication between the participating physicians. They can use the personal health record LifeSensor free of charge and also only have to pay the medical registration fee of 10 euro once a year. In addition, they are entitled to an extensive health check once a year free of charge.

InterComponentWare AG is an international eHealth provider with locations in Germany, Austria, the USA and Bulgaria. It develops and markets components for networking the different players in the health care industry, among them the hardware connector Medical NTBA and the patient-focused personal health record LifeSensor, the technology expert in this field. As part of the German government-consulting consortium bIT4health, ICW has rendered important consulting services for the introduction of the electronic health card in Germany and is additionally involved in the Austrian eCard project. With its co-operation in national and international steering and work groups for the establishment of an eHealth infrastructure, ICW promotes the standardization aims in the health care industry.

The Patient-Partner Association is a strongly expanding fusion of presently 343 physicians in all disciplines, nine pharmacies, four medical care services and three rehabilitation institutes in Bavaria. It wants to offer its patients integrated, quality-oriented care and create more transparency through the application of the Internet-based personal health record LifeSensor for medical staff and patients. The organisation is organized by GMZ GmbH, which also concluded the agreement with the AOK Bavaria. The PPV is open to further physicians, pharmacists and other health service providers.


Leslie Versweyveld

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