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Correction: AMA Article on PHRs

by John Moore | December 11, 2007

As physicians will play an extremely important role in the future adoption and use of personal health records (PHRs), educating physicians on this technology platform, where it is today and where it is heading, is critical. Unfortunately, it appeared that the AMA was not stepping up to play such an important educational role as a recent PHR article posted on their website gave only a cursory overview.

Last week, in a brief post, I chided the AMA for this poor article which caught the attention of the article’s author. She was kind enough to send me the complete article, all 5 pages of it. Apparently, the AMA only provides brief abstracts of articles for public viewing on their website. For the complete article you need to be a card carrying member of the AMA.

The complete article is far more comprehensive than alluded to previously and for that I stand corrected. What is disconcerting though is that the article takes a relatively dim view of PHRs, beginning with the title – PHR: Pretty Half-Hearted Reception.

Now granted, PHR vendors have struggled over the years to make themselves meaningful to the broader public. In a cursory review of many of them, a significant portion are nothing more than a series of simple template forms which the consumer must fill-out – not much value there. Was also astonished at just how bad some of these solutions are – really some are God-awful. But this is all changing, and fairly rapidly, which the article does not address.

Moves by Microsoft, Dossia-Indivo and Google in the future will significantly alter the landscape bringing more investment, skills and reach, which will raise the overall quality of PHRs are lesser solutions will not survive. Efforts such as Kaiser-Permanente’s My Health Record is seeing adoption at the rate of 50,000 new users a month. Aetna’s own PHR, which has seen only limited roll-out to date has signed-on over 800,000 users since it was introduced 10 short months ago. Clearly, PHRs are gaining momentum, something that this article seems to miss.

So, in the best interests of its constituency, the AMA needs to take a broader and more proactive view of PHRs. This would include: interviewing physicians who have found value in PHRs, (not just the one who has negative feelings about them as was the case in this article), interviewing employers who have established PHRs for their employees, talking to payers such as Aetna about their experiences, reaching out to the big, new entrants Microsoft and Dossia who are creating personal health platforms (PHPs) and most important of all, consumers who are using these solutions.

Only then, will AMA’s constituency be able to make a an educated judgment on PHRs and what it will mean to their practice. And isn’t that really the point of these articles?

One response to “Correction: AMA Article on PHRs”

  1. Alex Sicre says:

    John, I am following up on your comment on Patient Centric Healthcare from 11.21.07 “WSJ on Texting in Healthcare”. Are there any PHR vendors that you would reccomend Intelecare ‘hooking up with”? I think that is a fantastic idea as well.

    Thank you for your input.

    Alex Sicre

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