Health Informatics Discussion Forum

Google health is to be discountinued. There have been lots of blog discussions about whether or not PHRs have a future.


My opinion is that we'll see more usage of "Patient Portals" by healthcare organisations (as opposed to PHRs where patients add to the record).


For many long-term conditions, we see something similar to the PHR concept from sites like Patient's Like Me, where users can record their information but it might not be integrated with their hospital records.


In the long term, I think that many of the ideas in the PHR concept will probably get incorporated into patient portals, but in the short term it will be more about booking appointments and viewing test results (and not adding anything to the record).


What do you think?

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  • I believe we're going to find elements of Google Health elsewhere. Patient portals, which bring more integration, seem a valid option. Perhaps even Microsoft points towards that direction:


    HealthVault is a critical component in our broader project strategy --- which is to (1) connect care across the ecosystem, from the home to the clinic to the hospital to the research lab, and (2) do so in a way that includes and encourages innovation from as many different organizations as possible.

    • Thanks for the reply Harris.


      I see HealthVault becoming more of a tool that connects devices patients use at home with the hospital systems. So if the patient uses a connected blood pressure cuff - it could automatically update their EHR. I'm not sure they will focus on PHR-type patient entered records although it would complement what they are doing well.



  • Do you think there needs to be the opportunity for the social element? Adam Bosworth ( thinks 'fun' and 'social' are necessary to attract patients. He believes this is one reason why Google Health failed. (see here)
    • I think that the key driver to begin with will be booking appointments and everyday tasks like that.


      There is a separate opportunity for social sites like Patients Like Me, but I'd see the value in that being bringing together large support networks for people with chronic conditions across wide areas. For an individual clinic or hospital, offering a social networking function might not be feasible whereas offering a patient portal might be.

      • One thing for sure the patients need to be more involved in health procedures. You need "smart" patients who are willing to take a great responsibility over theirs treatments. Don't forget the fact that there are still patients that are coming to take the doctor advice with no hesitation and part of their recovery due to the fact that someone is taking full responsibility of their therapy.  Despite this I could see the other kind of patient in which this system will help them and make their life easier especially for people with chronic conditions.

        • If the system is built correctly I think anyone would be able to take a more active role - not just "smart" patients. There may be a heavier learning curve for some patients however.
          • Let me give you a scenario: what on the case you have done some blood test and you have the access to the lab results before you sow the doctor and before even the doctor had the chance to read the result? 

            • Optimally a simple way to enter the results would exist, if standards were created then a simple click to export into the patients chosen PHR. Barring that, users search for the type of blood test and a form is offered for them to enter their results. Once the system has the data, it can then highlight anything outside of the norm and even email the doctor if necessary.


              Back when it worked properly, my own site allowed users with severe mental health issues to track their symptoms. We had some users with severe limitations who were able to use the system to provide their therapists and psychiatrists with a better understanding of how they were doing.


              The site is and is no longer supported until we can find a way to make it pay for itself.

            • Patients should not have access to labs or tests until it has been discussed with them by a competent professional. This "preview" can only have negative impact on the communication aspect.
  • I think we did get too excited about the PHR functionality, when we don't even have simple things like: book an appointment, request a prescription refill, view your lab results, get a list of your immunizations.  


    People took the need for individual data requests and constructed a PHR out of it.  I think we should be thinking more about ATMs rather than full service system.  People are very transactional about their health.  In the healthcare system, we call that an 'encounter'.  People come in to get their prescriptions refilled or to hear about their lab results or get their immunization list updated for their child's school.  


    Those are things that can be automated, in some cases.  Keeping track of all your health information is complicated enough for a doctor.  How can we expect patients to keep track of it, even if there is an automatic feed?

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