When those in the industry talk of PHRs and adoption by consumers, virtually all of the focus is on two categories of users who dominate PHR use today, consumers with chronic care needs and a family’s chief medical officer, the woman of the house. Both groups of users are by and large from the middle class.
While all of the focus is there, I am beginning to see some PHR roll-outs for a new class of PHR consumers that I’ll refer to as the “disadvantaged”. When speaking of the disadvantaged I am referring to those that are low wage earners, have irregular access to healthcare, relying predominantly on clinics and emergency rooms for care, and often do not have insurance. These users may also have limited access to computers and the Internet, but most will likely have a cell phone.
In early August, I had a post on a sponsored PHR program in California for migrant workers based on the successful MiVIA platform from FollowMe. (Nice to see a government agency put money on the table for a viable pilot program – why the feds can’t do this is a mystery to me. Then again, maybe all those tax dollars are going to support another failing RHIO as part of an ill-conceived NHIN.)
Late last week I was speaking to another PHR vendor who has more on their plate then they ever imagined. This vendor was quite proud of a recent win at a well-known University. The University intends to use the PHR as part of a broader diabetes education and compliance program for inner city residents. The goal is to tie local outreach and education efforts with tools (a PHR account) that the consumer can use to help manage their diabetes.
Today, there is extremely little in the market to educate consumers on the value of a PHR. Most simply stumble upon a PHR or are referred to one by a friend, family member, associate or maybe their physician. Such outreach efforts at the lower economic strata of our economy may provide extremely valuable feedback and lessons on what is needed for a broader educational campaign to motivate consumers to take a proactive roll in managing their health.