Is the Market Ready for PHRs? | Jennifer Prestigiacomo | Healthcare Blogs Skip to content Skip to navigation

Is the Market Ready for PHRs?

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Studies show both patients and providers are just not there yet
With the announcement this week of PHR provider MMRGlobal offering military members and their families a MyMedicalRecords Personal Health Record account at no cost for as long as they are on active duty (and veterans and their families a no cost one year access), I wonder what it will take to get true market penetration of PHRs.

Personal health record adoption has been slow to catch on. This point is reinforced by a recent study by IDC Health Insights that showed that the vast majority of the 1,200 respondents aren't using a PHR simply because they don’t know about them yet. There is a bit of promise in IDC’s results, as 28 percent of the respondents indicated that they would use a PHR system if their physician recommended doing so. However, some patients don’t see the value of a PHR since they don’t seek many healthcare services, while others don’t trust the security of PHRs.


Not only are patients not quite ready for PHRs, hospitals aren’t there either. A Healthcare Informatics poll showed a basic lack of preparedness of hospitals to implement PHRs. According to the survey, 44 percent of respondents said their organization was somewhat prepared to have its patients use PHRs, while 40 percent said they were not ready at all.

CMS has done a couple PHR pilots, one of which has yielded some interesting results. Launched in 2008, the goal of the My Personal Health Record (MyPHRSC) pilot in South Carolina was to provide fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries with free access to a Web-based PHR. An evaluation of MyPHRSC ultimately found limited standard measures for PHR usability and utility and no specific guidelines for PHR development. Barriers impeding provider PHR use included the potentially negative impact on office workflow, data inconsistencies, and the lack of reimbursement for provider participation.

The pilot also showed that consumer preferences for PHRs included: pre-populated, downloadable data; simplified log-ins; strong technical support; streamlined and combined administrative and clinical data; direct on-line communication between patient and provider such as prescription refills or email contact; and alerts and tracking mechanisms for monitoring preventative or chronic conditions.

Another pilot, the Medicare PHR Choice pilot, is open to Utah and Arizona residents with fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare. Unlike MyPHRSC, beneficiaries in Medicare PHR Choice are able to select one of the four participating PHR vendors (Google Health, HealthTrio, myMediConnect, and NoMoreClipboard). The Medicare PHR Choice pilot launched in 2009 and will conclude June 2011.

With Stage 3 meaningful use goals of patient access to self-management tools and EHRs having capability to exchange data with PHRs, what will be necessary to get patients and providers over the edge of adopting PHRs? Please share your thoughts with me below.


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