The personal health record is failing patients

A personal health record (PHR) has been touted as a way for patients to better keep track of their health information. Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault lead the way.

But what happens if the company storing your data gets bought, goes bankrupt, or simply decides to discontinue their system?

Well, those who stored their data with Revolution Health are finding out first hand.

The troubled company, which started off with so much fanfare, yet died in a whimper, recently announced they’re shutting down their personal health record service.

According to American Medical News, “Industry insiders say Revolution joins a long list of vendors who launched PHRs with a big splash, only to find little interest from consumers.”

Most of my patients don’t use a personal health record, and prefer that I enter the data in myself, or export it from from my electronic record system. The problem is, i) there isn’t enough time in a 15-minute patient visit to help patients enter in their data, apart from what I already do in my own system, and ii) many online personal health record sites aren’t compatible with the systems doctors are using.

Leaving the data entry to the patient is inefficient, and a sure way to minimize the adoption rate. Indeed, “the most successful PHR-type systems have been created by health care organizations and have benefits to patients, he added, such as e-mailing with physicians, online appointment scheduling and the ability to look at information entered by their physicians.”

That means a successful personal health record have to be well-integrated with, or designed by, existing hospital and physician systems, making it harder for a third-party system, such as the defunct Revolution Health service, to gain traction.

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