Health IT

Akron General first hospital system to sign with My LifePlan

Akron General Health System has agreed to deploy MyChoice — the subscription health information service of My LifePlan Inc. — at its four emergency departments in Northeast Ohio. It’s the first hospital system to adopt the service designed to speak for subscribers during medical emergencies launched by My LifePlan soon after it started in 2006. […]

Akron General Health System has agreed to deploy MyChoice — the subscription health information service of My LifePlan Inc. — at its four emergency departments in Northeast Ohio.

It’s the first hospital system to adopt the service designed to speak for subscribers during medical emergencies launched by My LifePlan soon after it started in 2006. Based in Ravenna, Ohio, My LifePlan uploads, stores and shares subscribers’ medical information with first responders and other medical professionals.

The service creates a first-line electronic health record that can help medical emergency workers treat subscribers faster and more safely. It also can save time for first responders — which means their employers can save money. It can even feed into electronic medical record systems at hospitals.

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The pipeline of interest and inquiries about the My LifePlan system has filled in recent months, thanks to federal stimulus money available to hospitals that employ electronic medical record systems and use them in meaningful ways, said Dr. Ron Ribitzky, chief medical information officer for the Ravenna company.

In April (pdf), the Stow, Ohio Fire Department agreed to start using the My LifePlan system, which comes with fingerprint readers by BIO-Key International and Panasonic Toughbook mobile devices that operate the company’s software.

Subscribers store any information they like in their accounts — emergency contact information, allergies, medical conditions and advanced healthcare directives, such as powers of attorney or living wills. Firefighters and emergency medical professionals access the information online through an identification card or fingerprint reader.

Perhaps most importantly, the information gives individuals control of the medical care they receive — or choose not to receive — when they are unconscious or otherwise unable to speak for themselves, said Ruth Skocic, founder, president and chairman of My LifePlan.

Skocic is so serious about the security and privacy of subscribers’ information, she won’t even say how many subscribers her company has.

For Skocic, a former social services director at a nursing home who watched an indigent man die of gangrene because no one had a power of attorney to act on his behalf, the agreement with Akron General is the first step toward what she calls a “community-centric medical emergency ecosystem.”

“It’s been quite the journey,” said Skocic, who has held tight to her dream of a national medical emergency information system through the ups and downs of a startup company. “We have a true healthcare ecosystem that starts with individual care and consumer choice.”

Starting with a 9-1-1 call, a first responder can use the My LifePlan system to put a patient’s finger on a fingerprint reader, punch in an identification number, verify critical medical data and get emergency contact information. “The member’s healthcare safety deposit box is right there for them,” Skocic said.

Her privately owned company plans to hire between 30 and 40 sales, customer service and project management workers within the next several months to accommodate fast-growing demand. My LifePlan now employs five people and works with several dedicated contractors.

Ensuring personal choice for patients is important to Akron General, which runs emergency rooms at Akron General Medical Center, as well as freestanding emergency departments in Stow and Bath, Ohio, and one based at Lodi Community Hospital, said spokesman James Gosky.

“We are very pleased to enter into this master collaboration agreement with My LifePlan,” said Dr. Jack Mitstifer, president of Inpatient Services at Akron General, in a My LifePlan release (pdf). “At Akron General, we strongly believe in the concept of consumer choice, and this collaboration further ensures that our patients’ healthcare choices are realized at the most critical time — when they need emergency care.”

Akron General is “investing” a little more than $15,000 to equip Stow ambulances with hardware and updating software in its own emergency rooms to communicate with the My LifePlan system. “We believe this partnership will further enhance our already strong relationships with the communities we serve,” Gosky said.