New software called HealthFrame 2.1 has been launched in the US allowing patients to access their personal health records using an iPod.

HealthFrame is described as a software system designed to permanently record, organise and help users, and those to whom they permit access, to understand their personal health more easily and completely. Suppliers, Records for Living claim “2.1 is the only commercially available personal health record to support iPod connectivity.”

Simone Pringle, president and founder of Records for Living, told E-Health Insider: “When considering this upgrade we tried hard to deal with connectivity issues. The main resource used by clinicians on the move was USB keys, but these had clear disadvantages. They could only be read on PCs and risked bringing infection onto the computer.”

The move towards connecting to iPods came as the development team at Records for Living realised that the iPod was commonly used by teenagers and could make the transportation of medical records much easier.

Pringle added: “In the US, teenagers are a group facing medical problems due to lifestyle effects. We realised that most of them do carry iPods on them and use them on a daily basis. They don’t carry USB keys on them outside of school and you can’t make them carry things they don’t want to, so using an iPod to carry medical information on seemed perfect.

“We used iPod Notes functions to create a system that could pull together medical records and compress them to fit the screen of a standard iPod. The notes are composed into a hierarchical status and so if they need to go into hospital, then they can give staff their notes using their beloved iPods!”

Using the system, access to medical notes becomes simpler for patients and clinicians.

Pringle explained: “With the click of a button, HealthFrame 2.1 users can transfer to their iPods emergency contact information, provider and medication lists, known allergies, and other pertinent health-related information. The idea is for you to have access to your health records, under your control, always accessible, anywhere and anytime.”

Records for Living argue that the HealthFrame 2.1 will make accessing patient records less intrusive. Data will be saved on the players’ hard drive and can easily be synchronised to PCs, or read off the screen.

The system supports the Continuity of Care Record (CCR) industry standard, which enables clinicians and patients to exchange medical records more easily. It has been developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) and backed by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Dr Richard Peters, managing director and chair of the ASTM E31 Healthcare Informatics committee said: “Standards-based web services and data interoperability, supported by Records for Living’s HealthFrame 2.1 and the freely distributed HealthFrame Viewer, will have a strong positive impact on health care quality and patient safety – a key role for Personal Health Records.”

The vendors say they have received good feedback on the iPod connectivity feature and Pringle told EHI that there had been interest from UK companies who had heard of the product.