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.