Patient portals have long been accepted as opportunities for physicians to interact with patients, solve communication issues by providing a secure conduit for clinicians and even allowing patients to pay their bills on-line. The later is used as the ROI for purchasing such systems. But it falls short of collecting medications, clinical history, glucometer results and other personal clinical monitoring systems. So what about all these separate Personal Health Records PHR’s? Microsoft, WEBMD and others provide PHR’s that provide a means for patients to store information. I recently subscribed to the Walgreen’s PHR to help manage my medications and then found myself inputting personal health information. The rationale is that the more they know about your health, the less likely the medications will adversely affect conditions not being treated by your primary health provider. It also allows me to receive refill information and other subscription related information. The value for me was the service I was already receiving by using their pharmacy. I logged into the Microsoft PHR and found myself wondering what value was I getting out of this? Before I created my PHR at Walgreens, they already knew what medications I was on, what insurance I had and how many last minute hallmark anniversary cards I had purchased. Microsoft knows how many times an application has crashed on my PC every time I submit a bug report.
Some PHR’s like Google Health allows you to link to other PHR’s or EHR’s like , Cleveland Clinic, Longs Drugs, Medco, CVS, Quest, RxAmerica and Walgreens. The list of Medical Centers is very short. So why are we not embracing these PHR’s within Health Information Systems? Integration would enable chronic disease patients to better provide continuous information to their health systems and other patients can provide up to date demographic and history information. However, there is little discussion on data exchange with these PHR’s. Patient Kiosks focus on demographics and financial information because we want to get paid. What about clinical information? Are there liability issues that preclude patients from entering information into their records? Shouldn’t we have a bi-directional exchange of physician appointments, lab, meds and the full continuum of care? Until we are ready to truly empower our patients with their clinical information, we will not have a full past and present picture of their health.