Just a few years ago, personal health records leapt into the spotlight. With physicians slow to adopt electronic medical records, not to mention the lingering questions about the interoperability and portability of those electronic records, personal health records seemed like the perfect solution. Both Google and Microsoft launched online personal health records.
Administered completely by the patient, their Health and HealthVault respectively offered patients a way to have their medical history available from any computer, anywhere. Everyone assumed that patients would flock to this service, and initial patient reaction was favorable. In fact, initial response was so favorable that several other personal health record sites launched. Doctors braced themselves for an onslaught of patients demanding internet ready kiosks in each examining room so they could call up their personal health records. At the same time, physicians worried about the accuracy of the information found in personal health records.
Now it seems all that worry may have been premature. After initial interest, the demand for personal health records has declined. So much so, that one site, Revolution Health, recently informed its users that it would be shutting down the site. The company claimed that instead of the thousands of users it anticipated, it actually experienced only a few hundred users. A situation other PHRs find themselves in. The companies admit that a major obstacle to PHR adoption is ease of use. If the PHR isn’t user friendly and easy to navigate then patients aren’t likely to use it. In addition, if it takes over thirty minutes for a patient to enter their initial medical history, chances are they become frustrated and give up. Still, there are a few successful PHRs. The key seems to lie in ease of use and physician involvement.
While personal health records won’t fade away entirely they may revert to closed systems like the one used by the Cleveland Clinic. It is only available to patients of Cleveland Clinic and while it is, technically a PHR the data is administered by the clinic. Another option is a personal health record provided by the employer like the system Wal-mart rolled out in 2008. Dossia, a non-profit group of several large U.S employers administers the personal health record and it is only available to employees of member companies.
Jennifer is a Wisconsin based writer. She has a special interest in technology. Her works have been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and online. Her business background has allowed her to work in various fields including; Construction, Accounting and most recently Audio Visual.