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On the PHR Front…

by John Moore | October 01, 2010

Activity is really heating up here at Chilmark Research.  But all that activity is making it difficult to follow all of the changes that are taking place in the market.  Let me correct that, not so hard to follow, extremely hard to find the time to write about within the context of these posts.  Thus, a change is needed.

Occasionally, rather than write an in-depth post on a single topic/action that occurred, we’ll write one that addresses a number of activities that have happened in a given market/technology sector that we follow.  This is not to say that any one of these activities doesn’t deserve its own in-depth review, it’s just a matter of having the time.

Over the last couple of weeks or so, several things have happened in the PHR (or our preferred term, PHP – personal health platform) market that are note worthy:

Google Health releases update to their PHP. The update, which Chilmark wrote about previously, refocuses the Google Health platform from one that was predominantly focused on sickness to one focused on health.  In very un-Google like fashion, Google even shared some user numbers stating that over 50K users had signed up to the service via a soft-launch on the Android mobile app, CardioTrainer.

Epic releases the iPhone app, MyChart. Epic, who is literally steamrolling the competition in EHR installs for large hospitals has created an iPhone app for their tethered PHR, MyChart. Leveraging all the bells & whistles of MyChart (e.g., appt scheduling, reminders, Rx refill requests, records viewing, etc.) this looks like a pretty slick app and if I was in California and a Kaiser-Permanente member, you can bet that I would have this app on my iPhone. Nice job Epic.

Now if only other EHR vendors could get off their duffs and actually create a PHR that consumers would want to use. Sadly, today this just does not seem to be a focus of the vast majority of EHR vendors and their PHR offerings stink.

HealthVault finally joins Continua. There has been a lot of he said-she said with regards to the ongoing reasons as to why Microsoft, for a number of years, refused to join the medical device consortium Continua.  Chilmark has even chided Microsoft for its policy towards Continua, even if Microsoft had a valid point that Continua simply would not move fast enough (Continua members are still painfully slow in releasing Continua compliant devices). Well, that is all in the past now as earlier this week Microsoft made a “soft announcement” that is has signed on to Continua. No reason to break open the champagne just yet, but it is a promising sign that consumers will have more freedom of choice when they walk into that Best Buy Health kiosk to buy their next home, biometric monitoring device to load data up to their HealthVault account.

Next week, Chilmark will be in San Francisco to attend many of the activities occurring during Health Innovation Week.  We’ll do our best to keep you apprised of what we learn and see, but encourage you to also follow the twitter stream.  My personal twitter name is: @john_chilmark.

Wish all an enjoyable fall weekend.

8 responses to “On the PHR Front…”

  1. Hi John,

    “Now if only other EHR vendors could get off their duffs and actually create a PHR that consumers would want to use. Sadly, today this just does not seem to be a focus of the vast majority of EHR vendors and their PHR offerings stink.”

    Agree with that assessment. Now if you can tie the Patient Portals like Google Health or Health Vault to EHR/PMS systems that’s when both the Patients and Physicians win. Now if Google health, HealthVault provide CCD and also add on/expose additional APIs for Appointments, refills, communicate information it would be a big win. CCD is a requirement for all certified EHR vendors and if health portals can provide seamless APIs for exchanging other information like Appointments, refills, data collected from mobile apps etc these APIs would become de-facto standards and would put all EHR vendors under pressure/incentivize to connect up to the portals. I think everybody wins in this scenario. IMHO each EHR vendor providing their own portal for Patient communication is not a scalable or useful model.


    • John says:

      Hi Prasad,
      Agree with you on almost all of your points. One minor clarification/correction: HealthVault does accept CCD and CCR docs and Google Health accepts CCR only so at least there is some opportunity to import medical records into these PHPs. And yes, it would be nice if there were APIs that enable transactional processes such as appt scheduling, but to date, nothing has shown up in the market.

      As to the EHR vendors, to be certified, they will likely have to have some form of PHR capability to enable physicians and hospitals to meet Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements. Whether it is a tethered PHR/portal-type app or something far simpler such as a Blue Button to allow consumer to download records to repository of their choosing remains to be seen. Hopefully, wiser minds in DC will prevail and a Blue Button type capability will suffice to meet Stage 2 MU.

      • Praveen Yadav says:


        Thanks for the nice article. A few days back I came across Hello Health (www.hellohealth.com) which is essentially a patient and provider Portal and integrated with Google Health and HealthVault. They offer the scheduling appointments. What are your thoughts on this.

        I’m actually working on the Patient/Member portal of one of the Healthcare incentive program and really looking into some of the Gaps in the industry that this new portal can address.

        I’m definitely looking into the possibility of the integrating with Google Health or/and MS HealthVault, insteady of creating inhouse PHR and storing data inhouse.


        • John says:

          Your approach makes a lot of sense. I really do not see how HHS/ONC will be able to have all providers offer a PHR to their patients. Such a policy/requirement will quickly become untenable. Hopefully, the wise minds in DC see this as well and will allow providers to meet the intent of a PHR by providing patients ready access to their PHI along with portability to export their records to a repository of their choosing.

  2. David Sohm says:

    Interesting news about MyChart from Epic. I am a CA residient and Kaiser member, but the MyChart app does not list Kaiser of one (of only 4) providers they currently support. I guess it’ll be coming?

    • John says:

      With over a third of KP members using MyChart today, I had assumed that if anyone had the iPhone app available for consumers, it would have been KP.

      So much for assuming. Likely, with so many members currently using MyChart, KP is taking a measured approach to rolling out the iPhone app.

      Will be at KP’s Garfield Innovation Center next Wednesday so now have another question to add to my list.

  3. […] Article John Moore, Chilmark Research, 1 October 2010 […]

  4. Gerald Theis says:

    Why is it assumed that consumers are going to be compliant with all the “bells and whissles” built into PHR’s. Consumers want simplicity,ease of use, affortable, secure, remote and functional access of their vital health records at point of care. The fact is we didn’t ask what the wanted and the PHR was built from a provider mindset. What is going to happen will be interesting to watch. Consumers will purchase PHR’s apps from a retail perspective outside of the healthcare industry looking for a product of practicality. Caregivers,university students, the poor, the severely disabled the uninsured and populations outside the USA don’t care about interoperability or are not capable of maintaining the a complicated PHR. They want their vital Medical Data readily available at point of care anywhere anytime. This was the premise that led to my design of the PHR.

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