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Back Story on CMS PHR Go Live

by John Moore | May 28, 2008

In early May, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the “go live” of the Personal Health Record pilot for Medicare beneficiaries in South Carolina. Titled MyPHRSC, the PHR is based on technology from vendor Healthtrio (a company profiled in Chilmark’s just released PHR Market Report), with contractor QSSI doing the outreach to beneficiaries and IBM doing the project management and implementation.

Had a call recently with Healthtrio who provided more background to this story which follows.

  • This is a pilot project with a initial time-frame of 12 months, though there is a clause to extend this program an additional 24 months based on meeting certain objectives (adoption, use, capabilities, etc.).
  • Officially launched on April 4th, the first weekend saw about 100 registrants and they are now seeing about 15 new registrants/day. Assuming registration has held steady, they should hit close to 1,000 registered users by the end of May.
  • The PHR is consumer controlled and the consumer defines all access rights to the PHR.
  • PHR is populated with Medicare claims data. All other information, e.g., medications, family history, lab data, clinical notes from doctor’s visit, etc, must be entered by the consumer.
  • Healthwise is a partner in the project providing health-related content that is personalized for the user based on their health profile.
  • Extensive testing and validation was performed prior to roll-out to insure privacy and security of the PHR.
  • Feedback to date from users has been very positive.

Initial Analysis:

Not exactly a barn burner of a release. Two months in and only 1,000 users? Bet Google Health saw that many in the first couple of hours, if not much more after opening their doors. But in all fairness to CMS, Healthtrio and others involved in MyPHRSC, they are dealing with an older population that may be less familiar and subsequently less comfortable adopting and using an online PHR.

Great to see CMS adopt a strong consumer-centric policy regarding who controls access to the PHR. Also quite comforted to hear that CMS really focused on privacy and security of the platform prior to release.

Extremely surprised by the lack of functionality provided. Healthtrio assures me that much more is on the drawing board and CMS is really pushing them to deliver. But honestly, providing only claims data with some health content wrapping, that is about as simplistic as it gets for a PHR. As most seniors must deal with multiple medications, delivering the kind of functionality that Google Health is delivering today for medication management would be a HUGE STEP forward, easily increasing the utility of the solution 2-3x what they are providing today.

Bottom Line:

If more functionality is not delivered promptly, adoption of this PHR will quickly plateau and use will slowly fade as there is simply not enough there on the MyPHRSC platform to keep those consumers coming back.

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