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Options Abound, Guidance is Lacking

by John Moore | September 04, 2007

Today’s article in the WSJ, pg D1, New Services Help Unsnarl Medical Bills, left me frustrated even further regarding PHRs as this article seems to confuse and co-mingle PHRs and software to help a consumer manage their medical bills and HSAs (health savings accounts). Granted there is cross-over between managing medical bills and PHRs with some companies even providing a consumer to manage both within the context of their offering, but it is a loosely coupled connection between PHR and medical bills and the WSJ article does a pretty poor job of separating the two in this article.

This is but another example of how difficult it is for a consumer to effectively evaluate PHR offerings in the market today and ultimately make the best decision for them in selecting a PHR. In my PHR research to date (and I consider myself pretty savvy at conducting such research) I have come across plenty of information on PHRs, unfortunately, 99% of it is garbage.

For example, Google the following: PHR “personal health record” and you’ll get 58,800 hits. The first hit, below the adverts, is for a American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) hosted website. While I commend AHIMA for taking the initiative to create myPHR.com for educating the consumer on the basics of PHR, unfortunately, they do not provide sufficient information for a consumer to make a wise decision. And AHIMA is one of the better sites for PHR information!

So what’s missing?

  • Clear, accurate and up-to-date information on PHR solutions available today.
  • Descriptions of classes of PHR types and the advantages and disadvantages of these varying form factors.
  • A delineation of the different types of entities that are offering PHR-type services today (i.e., insurers, employers, providers, independent software vendors, etc.) and the advantages and disadvantages of choosing one of these providers for a PHR. For example, while an employer’s PHR may be offered for free and allow you to take advantage of company wellness incentives, it is not portable and may put an employee at risk if an employer has unfettered access to your PHR.
  • What to look for in a PHR, particularly as it pertains to security and privacy. For example, should a consumer only subscribe to a PHR that has agreed to and is shown to be in compliance with the HON Code? Is the HON Code sufficient? What about Verisign – does it provide sufficient protection?
  • A nice to have would be an assessment of features and functions offered by the numerous PHRs currently available.

This is but a brief list and I’ll probably add more as I continue what appears at time to be a quixotic quest to understand this evolving sector of the HIT market.

One response to “Options Abound, Guidance is Lacking”

  1. […] I have commented before, the PHR vendors have, as an industry, done a woefully poor job of addressing privacy and security […]

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