, launched by Raj Lakhanpal, is a pioneer in the field of personal health records (PHRs). The former emergency room physician started an online company from his basement in 1995. He partnered with big firms to develop tools, weathered the dotcom crash with a timely loan from a Princeton investor, and breathed a sigh of relief about the future of the company when it was bought by UnitedHealth Group last year. Now the firm has grown to 72 employees at Windsor Corporate Park and has been providing PHRs for more than five years.

That UnitedHealthcare is taking a leadership position in the personal health record arena should be auspicious. Other health plans offer PHRs, but United has about 24 million claims-based PHRs.

Does that sound encouraging? Not when you consider that, by the UnitedHealthcare’s own statistics, fewer than 10 percent of its clients access their PHRs, and only four percent enter data into their PHRs.

Lakhanpal attributes the lack of progress to the lack of common standards. “Systems used by insurance companies to process claims are fragmented and run on disparate systems,” he says. “Moreover, consumers’ medical information resides at different places, within the health plan, hospital systems and physicians, and it is difficult to connect all these sources.”

What’s needed: “Data standards similar to what are available with financial institutions so that health information can be easily exchanged between different stakeholders.”

Lakhanpal graduated from Amritser Medical College in India in 1982, and was associate director of emergency services at Capital Health. The current users of his firm’s health management solutions are the clients of health plans, employers, and third party administrators. The solutions address weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, etc., and the interactive online information can be backed up with telephone coaching.

Lakhanpal’s future plans: to make “significant enhancements to our PHR leveraging the capabilities of our parent (Commercial Services Group, a division of UnitedHealth Group). The enhancements are to improve the consumer experience, and add value to the user so that they use the PHR on a regular basis.” In the future, he says, HealthAtoZ hopes to work with other claims systems and other electronic medical record providers., 50 Millstone Road, Suite 160, East Windsor 08520; 609-301-2169; fax, 609-426-4621.

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