Happy National Health IT Week! Two giants in their respective industry spaces came together today to find out whether health information between a personal health record (PHR) can be interoperable with data from other sources.

I sat on a teleconference today featuring Kaiser Permanente (KP) and Microsoft (MSFT) discussing their project that will bring together KP’s My Health Manager personal health record with MSFT’s HealthVault.

KP and MSFT will test data exchange between HealthVault and My Health Manager. According to KP’s Anna-Lisa Silvestre, vice president of online services, KP has about 3 million active users of the PHR (among KP’s 8.7 million members). Silvestre estimates that’s about 30% of KP enrollees use My Health Manager. They’ve experienced rapid growth and anticipate 50% of the PHR adoption among KP members soon.

This technology platform already allows KP members to email physicians, schedule appointments, access test results and personal medical information, and refill prescription drugs. Silvestre gave an example of a current capability, which is impressive by any U.S. health consumer/IT standard: a KP member can receive a cholesterol test in the morning, and in the afternoon her results will be online for her to access. Then the patient/enrollee can click on the result, receive relevant health information, and perhaps enroll in an online health management program.

What new data elements might KP employees seek to bring into their already-excellent PHR? Think about blood glucose measurements from a monitor, or blood pressure readings. This is the just the start of potentially dozens of health information applications that could sit on HealthVault and communicate seamlessly with My Health Manager.

KP will first pilot with its own 156,000 employees through the next several months. Before the end of the year, they will evaluate whether (and if so, how) to deploy this to the millions of KP members.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:
What’s so important about this project is the base of members already using KP’s My Health Manager, and the potential for them to bring in data from other sources using the HealthVault platform. Starting with 156,000 people (the KP employees) is a large “N” on which to test the theory that, if you provide this capability and interoperability, ‘they’ (that is, the enrollees/patients) will come.

If Kaiser then decides to roll this out among its million members, you then have proof of concept that PHRs would be utilized by consumers. This doesn’t mean that all consumers would immediately cotton on to the idea that PHRs are for them. But for the engaged and self-empowered — those people who actually want access to their health data and health management tools — a positive outcome of this pilot could mean very good news.