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Quick Survey – CMS PHR Pilot: No Money, No Play

by John Moore | August 15, 2008

I stay in pretty close contact with a wide range of PHR vendors, both big and small to keep close tabs on the market, which is a common practice among “good” industry analysts after they publish a report. I only say “good” for the simple fact that many analysts move from one area to another rarely staying long enough in any one vertical market to truly understand what is occurring and how it might be evolving. Regardless, as to whether or not there is a huge groundswell of adoption among consumers, there is significant interest in PHRs among employers, health plans, policy makers, media, providers and lastly consumers, roughly in that order of interest and the market is in a very state today with large players jumping in (Google and Microsoft) and other seemingly large players struggling.

So this week, a couple of questions I asked a number of PHR vendors was: What do you think of the CMS PHR pilot program for Arizona and Utah Medicare beneficiaries that was announced last Friday? Will you respond to the RFP?

The tally to date is:

100% are “disappointed in the RFP”. As there is no money in the RFP to support this pilot, vendors are expected to foot the bill s not at all surprising to see disappointment. However, some vendors went beyond disappointment and were very upset seeing this as nothing more than a set-up for either Google or Microsoft, who certainly have the resources to cover such an “investment”.

~75% said they will not respond to the RFP as they are currently quite busy with existing prospects and clients.

Granted, my sample size was very small, but I do believe it was representative of the market. If such a low turn-out does materialize, this CMS demo will not be representative of what is possible, thus unlikely to yield any meaningful results.

Friday Editorial Rant:

It is time for the government to stop trying to do this on the cheap and start leading by example. Let’s move beyond roundtable policy talks, promoting certification of PHRs, talking about privacy ad nauseum (this is NOT the primary issue holding back adoption, delivering value to the consumer is), all things that really do not cost the government anything.

Rather, lets see the government itself begin investing in the concept by putting some real money down, cold hard cash, and placing a few bets.

They can begin by sponsoring research that will look at the real issues regarding adoption of PHRs. As there are a number of PHRs in the market today, let’s start by taking a closer look at what is working, what is not, who is adopting, who is not, etc. Sure, there have been a few reports here and there that attempt to address  some of these questions but none have been comprehensive nor have the rigor of say the recently published EMR adoption report of NEJM. Such a study will prove invaluable as it can establish an adoption baseline upon which future policy initiatives are structured to address the real adoption challenges.  This report may also prove quite valuable in educating the consumer as well as addressing concerns within the physician community.

Beyond establishing such a baseline, which we can also measure progress against, the government can also put some money on the table. When I think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that were wasted on a beltway bandit to define six HIT acronyms and then see the government unable to find one red cent to support a PHR pilot for a year, well I could just scream.

Some serious realignment needs to occur if not in the waning days of this administration, I am an eternal optimist, there is always hope that its predecessor will take a different tack.

One response to “Quick Survey – CMS PHR Pilot: No Money, No Play”

  1. very interesting, learned a lot!.

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