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Break out the Champagne – Another PHR Goes Live

by John Moore | November 07, 2007

Scraping the bottom of the press release (PR) barrel it would seem, Kaiser Permanente announced today their consumer personal health record (PHR) “My Health Manager” for members is now live. This is hardly newsworthy as there are a whole host of PHRs with similar features available from providers today. Even the statement that it is “free for members” rings hollow. Do they think members would actually pay for using it?

What I did find interesting in the PR was Kaiser’s statement that the PHR proceeding this one had 1.6 million register members, representing nearly 20% of their total membership. Now that is impressive and something worth writing about, though I would be curious to learn just how “active” those 1.6M members are.

One other little piece of information I’d like to learn more about is just how portable are those records in the Kaiser PHR. What happens if someone leaves their employer and has to change health plans, can they take the data in their PHR with them? Does Kaiser have any partnerships with independent (non-tethered) PHR companies that would allow a member to safely, securely and easily transfer pertinent records to such a PHR partner? As horrible as the current version of Microsoft’s HealthVault is for your average consumer, the underlying architecture of HealthVault would serve such a purpose well.

And the more I think about it, the harder time I have calling this a PHR.  It does not allow a member to enter data. It does not allow providers outside of the Kaiser network to access a member’s PHR, even if they grant it. (Then again, the provider and member could always just sit down together and go to the site – but that is not terribly efficient). Yes, it is not a PHR, it is put a uni-directional patient portal. Kind of like window shopping –  you can look in, but you can’t feel the fabric.

Just another example of the bastardization of the PHR acronym.

5 responses to “Break out the Champagne – Another PHR Goes Live”

  1. kp.org relaunched with My Heath Manager today

    This is a link to Kaiser Permanente’s press release about the relaunch of the site with My Health Manager. As the release states, the personal health record is continuing to be a large focus of Kaiser Permanente’s work in health information…

  2. I’d like to respond as a Kaiser Permanente physician and the medical director for kp.org. You express some skepticism about how active our members really are on kp.org. We are actually seeing more than 30,000 signed on visitors every day, and registration is growing on average by 50,000 per month.

    Why the growth and activity? What we’ve learned is that people do not just want to ‘have a PHR’ as an information repository, they want the online tools they can use to achieve their health goals, and take care of their health ‘to do’ list like refilling prescriptions or checking their lab results or sending a note to the doctor.

    People are also surprised and happy to have online access to their health information in real-time. For example, I’ve had lab tests done and by the time I got home my results were waiting online, and that’s a common experience. I’m sure that someday we’ll all come to take this for granted, but for now it’s something that continues to amaze.

    We also know our patients highly value being able to email their doctors – KP members are sending 275,000 emails, on average, to their doctors and other providers every month. Every one of those message exchanges becomes not only part of their PHR, but also part of their electronic medical record. Patients are using secure email to collaborate with their doctors on their care, to contribute their home blood pressure or weight or blood sugar readings to their chart, to let us know how a treatment is working or not working. This is one way that the shared record is developed.

    We will be adding more tools for patients to add their information to the record, but many are already doing so fairly robustly. They really are feeling the fabric. And yes, we have more work to do, but I think we have a great PHR to build upon. — Kate Christensen, MD, FACP

  3. hitanalyst says:

    Kate – thanks for answering a few of the questions I raised in this post. Some very impressive numbers regarding adoption and use of Kaiser’s My Health Record. Quite clearly, your customers are receiving value in this patient portal.

    And I am in firm agreement with you in that patients/consumers do want more than a simple repository of information that they typically have to enter on their own. Looks like you have addressed that issue head-on by providing your customers with a site that has greater depth and breadth of functionality than what is found in most PHRs on the market today, be they tethered or untethered.

    Congratulations to you and your team for taking a leadership role in the industry and I wish you continued success.

  4. […] slightly different example is Kaiser-Permanente.  Awhile back I did a post on their big PHR roll-out, though I was not all that enthused at the time as I am not a big fan of […]

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