Google, PHRs, and Leading by Example

I learned of the public launch of Google Health last week from the blog of John Sharp of Cleveland Clinic.  Google Health appears, for the most part, to be a run of the mill Personal Health Record (PHR) with conditions, allergies, medications and the like.  There is some typical Google flair in the presentation, but also a lot of awkwardness that needs to be addressed in other versions.

Perhaps the most exciting component currently is the connection to Cleveland Clinic’s Epic MyChart portal (and apparently a few others).

There’s been a lot of buzz as both Google and Microsoft have entered this arena including a recent survey from HIMSS Vantage Point.   Amongst the findings of this survey of dedicated Healthcare IT professionals is that only 30% have used a PHR.

My wife is a pharmacist and does a lot of work on medication adherence (getting patients to take complex medication regimens with unpleasant side effect as prescribed).  For years, she’s taken a daily vitamin for the sole reason that it gives her personal experience with the issues that her patient’s are facing so that she can provide worthwhile guidance.

At Geonetric, we refer to the same concept as “dogfooding,” i.e., the practice of eating one’s own dog food.

Why aren’t more healthcare IT professionals using these tools?  After all, they’re the natural early adopters – computer savvy and engaged in the healthcare industry.  According to the HIMSS Survey the top issue is concerns over the privacy and security of this sensitive information (49 percent),  echoing other recent comments in the media.

I’m not sure how I feel about such security concerns.  With the regular flow of announcements about healthcare data breaches, a good dose of paranoia seems warranted.  On the other hand, I wonder at what point we will be able to move past these concerns in healthcare as other industries have.

I suspect that the key comes in the delivery of more value through the personal health record.  The ability to track your information is not sufficient, even when it’s connected to good content resources.  The connection to local resources to help you manage your health including, ideally, your personal care team, is the missing component.  Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault have channels to make those connections, so perhaps their entry into the space is the first step to growing adoption.

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Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

2 thoughts on “Google, PHRs, and Leading by Example

  1. Great link to the HIMSS. 30% is HIGH for PHR adoption as well. I think the real problem is the physician adoption as there is little use for the PHR without charts and records. I have tested numerous PHRs, but my MD doesn’t use one so all of the info is self reported and possibly not that accurate. If I were to have an accident, the ER could access that data, if I were awake and could give them my password. I do think HV and GOOG will raise awareness, but who wants to trust their medical records to a search engine?

    My son’s pediatrician offers Medem’s iHealthRecord on his website, but when I asked his nurse what sort of adoption rates they have experienced, she assured me that all of the records were paper records. I said they offer an EHR, and she did not know what that means, and told me to speak with the doctor. I left him a message but have not heard back from him yet.

    In regards to medication adherence, I recommend your wife direct her patients to We provide free user created medical reminders for daily medications, prescription refills, doctor’s appointments, etc… all delivered when the patients wants them via email, text and voice messaging. We currently have over 3M patients and caregivers using our services.

    In a correlation to HIT use of PHRs to MDs and medication adherence – only 68% of doctors are adherent to their own prescribed medical regime – granted that is 18% higher than the average, but that number is still too high.

    Thanks for teaching me the term dogfooding!

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