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Personal Health Record Service: Who Does It Best?

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: a) 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 b) 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 healthcare organizations and have benefits to patients, 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 records 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.

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*


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2 Responses to “Personal Health Record Service: Who Does It Best?”

  1. One of the benefits of a PHR that is not addressed in this post is patients are more empowered and in control of their health care if they use a PHR system. The more engaged a patient is the better their doctor visits will be as well as their adherence to the specified medical treatments. Consumers want a way to take charge of their health care especially in the ever changing environment that is today’s health care system. Give the consumer a PHR system that will function in emergencies to alert emergency personnel of the patient’s medications or chronic diseases and the patient has peace of mind as well as health care engagement through a multiple use PHR. Revolution health didn’t gain traction not because PHRs are a bad idea and consumers don’t want them; it didn’t gain traction because it didn’t provide a complete PHR solution or added benefits.

  2. Kim Land says:

    Great article. As a caregiver for my elderly parents, my biggest concern is that their critical health information is available when we need it most–at doctor appointments, hospital visits, and for emergency personnel.

    My dad went to the ER just two weeks ago. When the EMTs needed details about his medical history, I handed them Dad’s PHR from the trunk of my car. Everything they needed to know was right there–his medications, prior hospitalizations, conditions, surgeries, allergies, test results, office visits, vital statistics, etc. My PHR is in Word/Excel, so it’s easy to maintain from my laptop. I print a copy for my parents to have on hand, and keep a copy on a flash drive in my purse.

    What’s also nice is not having to fill out those lengthy new-patient forms whenever we see a new specialist. I just hand the medical assistant the pages from our PHR, and they make copies of what they need.

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