Washington – The movement toward a more unionized and positive approach to electronic health records (EHR) took another step forward today with the announcement by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Secretary Mike Leavitt of 12 communities that will participate in a national Medicare demonstration project that provides incentive payments to physicians for using certified electronic health records (EHR) to improve the quality of patient care. The five-year, first-of-its-kind project is expected to improve the quality of care provided to an estimated 3.6 million Americans.

Giving Americans access to their electronic health records also is on the table. Oakland, Calif.-based health insurer Kaiser Permanente is partnering with Seattle-based Microsoft on a project that would give patients better access to their health records. The program calls for voluntary data exchange from Kaiser Permanente’s personal health records and Microsoft HealthVault, the companies announced. The companies are piloting health data transfers between Kaiser’s My Health Manager and the vault’s consumer health platform. The pilot program is expected to introduce new strategies designed to improve consumer access to online health information and management tools, according to the companies.

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