Managers at network technology giant Cisco Systems say the company is saving more than $4 for every $1 it invests in its employees’ health care using personal electronic healthcare records.

In an evaluation of a pilot programme involving 600 staff at the company has concluded that employees who become involved in their PHRs are healthier and more productive at work.

The evaluation concludes that staff who use PHRs make fewer visits to the doctor, and their employer’s health care costs are reduced. The results are part of a pilot program begun with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation three years ago.

Cisco is paying a €40 ($60)-per-year subscription per employee to participate in the service.

In addition to the 600 staff currently enrolled Cisco says it is working to expand the program to more employees and dependents.

Paul Tang, vice president and chief medical officer at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, said initial results of the pilot program found that 87% of employees spent less time away from work; 72% of employees said they reduced their number of physician office visits; and 61% of employees said they preferred online contact with their physicians.

According to the San Jose Business Journal nearly half of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s patient base is online. The foundation uses an electronic health record system from Epic Systems Corp, combined with a PHR that can be accessed by patients.