The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in a Press Release dated May 7, 2008 its new pilot test project in South Carolina that will use an on-line tool called a Personal Health Record (PHR) to give Medicare beneficiaries the ability to collect and then access information about their health or health care services, and collect information about their health.   CMS states that it is ensuring that strict privacy and security safeguards are in place to protect all beneficiary data.    

The CMS Press Release explains that one feature of the test pilot PHR allows individuals to look up information specific to their own personal health status and health conditions.  The PHR tool used in the pilot also provides convenient links to carefully selected Web sites with educational material on health topics.  This makes it easier for the beneficiary or other authorized users to do research that will help them understand their health issues and better manage their own care.  The beneficiary also will control who is able to see the information in the PHR, and will decide whether and with whom the information can be shared – from health care providers to caregivers and family members.  

The pilot, which began on April 4, 2008, is expected to run for 12 months and CMS will use information gathered from the pilot to determine future steps with respect to PHRs.