Received an email this weekend from the organizers of the big healthcare IT conference, HIMSS, which will be held next week in Orlando. This is the BIG EVENT, where virtually all present and future players in the HIT market come to pontificate on HIT’s future (e.g., both Google’s and Revolution Health’s CEOs will be giving keynote presentations).
Now getting back to that email, which provided me a link to a “HIMSS Yellow Pages” online directory of exhibitors. Naturally clicked through to take a look at the directory and found a listing for PHR providers. Great, this will make my planning easier I thought and went to take a look at who will be exhibiting. Imagine my disappointment in finding just three companies listed (CareData, ICW and Greenway) none of which are significant players. Actually did a quick check on them, here’s what I found:
- CareData is a small EMR supplier with a PHR called GlobalPatientRecord. Went to the PHR section and virtually all of the links associated with the tabs across the top (e.g., Company, Features, Testimonials, FAQ, etc.) are broken. Pretty clear that PHR is not a focal point for this company.
- ICW is a PHR pure play with their solution Life Sensor. Life Sensor has seen some success in Germany, but after several years of trying to break into the North American market, they still have nothing to show for it. Give them an A for persistence but an F for execution.
- Greenway Medical is another small EMR company who is pitching a PHR solution. This solution. however, is nothing more than a tethered portal to the Greenway EMR and not a true PHR.
Note, that Microsoft’s HealthVault was also listed, but as I have explained before, HealthVault is a Personal Health System, (PHS) and NOT a PHR.
So What’s Going On Here?
In my research on the PHR market, I have heard more than a few grumblings from PHR vendors that HIMSS is just giving lip-service to this sector, which seems quite evident based on what one sees here for this conference as well as what one may find on the HIMSS website (very little and dated) on PHRs. These PHR vendors have also reported that the HIMSS PHR task force has really gone nowhere, receiving little substantive support from HIMSS.
All of this is not that surprising seeing that HIMSS receives the vast majority of funding from those much larger hospital information system (HIS) providers such as Cerner, Eclipsys, Epic, GE Healthcare and Siemens to name a few. These HIS vendors have been anything but cooperative with PHR companies who are looking to develop APIs to these systems to facilitate interoperability and automate the updating of a consumer’s PHR. The HIS vendors have their own plans and would much rather have their customers (hospitals and larger physician practices) buy the patient portal solutions they are offering. Could this lead to a jaundiced eye cast upon PHR vendors by HIMSS?
This leaves the independent PHR vendors out in the cold at an event such as HIMSS. But, this may change in time should the PHR market really begin to gain some traction. Question is though, where does one go to see that traction occurring? What even(s) will have a critical mass of PHR vendors where one can really begin to size up this market and its future? Unfortunately, no such event exists today that I am aware of.
In time, maybe (and that’s a big maybe), HIMSS will be the event. Then again, a number of PHR vendors will be at the big payers event, AHIP in June.
What is becoming clear is that today, the PHR market is splitting into three distinct markets, providers, payers and employers. Therefore, if one is looking for such solutions, you’ll be looking at tethered EMR/PHR solutions from HIS vendors at HIMSS, payer-centric solutions that focus on disease management at AHIP and health & wellness with incentive management capabilities for those employer-centric PHR solutions. Right now, most PHR vendors are using word-of-mouth for this last target opportunity.
Final Notes & FYI:
What I can’t quite figure out is why, if HIMSS is giving so little visibility to PHRs, that the likes of CEO’s from Google, Microsoft and Revolution Health feel compelled to present at this event. One can write-off Microsoft for they are targeting healthcare providers as well with Amalga, but the others?
Looking at the broader HIMSS agenda, one does finds a single session dedicated to PHRs titled PHR: An Industry Update from Various Perspectives to be held on Tuesday, Feb, 26th @ 1pm, room 203A for those interested. I’ll be there, so please introduce yourself if you see me in the crowd.