Though the official announcement is scheduled for tomorrow, CMS sent out a thin (little content) media advisory announcing the four winners (or might they be losers as they must shoulder all costs) who will have the opportunity to offer their PHR to CMS beneficiaries in Arizona and Utah. The press release from CMS lacks a whole host of details (how many PHR providers responded to the RFP, scheduled go-live is Jan.2, so will all PHR vendors have claims data to begin with, or is it a recruitment of members by the PHR company, then populating the record and how will success be measured – recruitment numbers, changes in behavior, etc.)
And the winners are (alphabetically):
Google Health: We all know about Google Health and their desire to offer a consumer-facing PHR application & platform. But what is interesting here is their direct play for a PHR demonstration project which raises an eyebrow and question: Are they now a competitor of other partner PHR apps such as Medem & NoMore Clipboard? Differentiation: Massive scale, strong brand, clean interface and demonstrated ability to import data (e.g., clinical & medications). Also, and this may be key, Google Health is FREE!
Healthtrio: Pretty obvious choice as CMS has experience working with them in the past (Healthtrio won the South Carolina/CMS demo which was recently extended to including DoD participation, via TRICARE, in South Carolina.) Differentiation: Have worked with CMS and understand what CMS wants. They also have some experiencing in what it takes to roll-out a solution to CMS beneficiaries.
NoMoreClipboard: Small company that has been aggressive in partnering (partner with both HealthVault & Google Health) that has some strong technical capabilities from parent company’s previous RHIO & EMR work. Recently won a contract with Howard University for urban clinic roll-out. Differentiation: Nimble company with the technical expertise to readily import and present numerous data types. In our iPHR Report, they received “Best in Class” ranking for interoperability.
PassportMD: Small company out of Florida that has focused much of its go to market strategy on the active, traveling retiree (have done many promotions with travel agencies, cruise lines, etc.). More recently, they have expanded their strategy (use to have pictures of retirees on the site, now there are family shots) and recruited Joan Lunden as spokesperson. Differentiation: Launched a high touch service, ConcierCare, that takes on the responsibility of populating a consumer’s PHR, which may be particularly attractive for elderly.
Was not a big fan of this CMS project when first announced for the simple reason that the government was not putting their money where their mouth was (ZERO funding!) and questioned CMS’s ability to attract truly good, viable PHR solutions. Guess I was proved wrong on that front as CMS has attracted vendors with decent, albeit highly variable capabilities.
Still I question this project on a couple of points.
First, how will these solutions be rolled-out to beneficiaries. As it stands now, it is up to the PHR vendor to promote their PHR to CMS beneficiaries in these two states. Therefore, these beneficiaries will be allowed to chose among the four. But what educational materials and tools will CMS provide to help the beneficiary chose the best PHR for their specific needs? Will CMS offer a neutral site comparing the features of these four PHRs? Will there be a site where users can comment on their experience with a solution, ala an Amazon-type product review? There is a HUGE gap in consumer education and I see nothing announced to date by CMS as to how they intend to help close that gap. Just throwing out four PHRs to beneficiaries to chose from is of little help and may ultimately stall adoption.
Second, this demonstration is scheduled to last only a year. So what does that mean to the user who spends the time to get up to speed on a given PHR, loads their data, begins sharing it with their care providers, etc.? At the end of the year will they then have to start forking over $200/yr to PassportMD for their ConcierCare PHR service? That gets back to Google Health it’s free! Based on that info alone, I know what I would chose.
Only time will tell the ultimate success of this demo and not to end on a bad note, there are a couple of good things to say here.
The demonstration does provide an opportunity to once again look at PHR adoption issues (what works, what doesn’t) and maybe (BIG maybe as it is only a one yr trial) changes in health prompted by use of a PHR (e.g., does it prompt healthier behaviors, does it facilitate care?).
The demonstration may also raise the profile of PHRs in the broader market (it will certainly bring some nice marketing publicity to the smaller players) and if the results are good, could lead to larger, better funded programs by CMS in the future.