Ever since Google left the personal health record (PHR) business, speculation in the media has focused on why this technology hasn’t “taken off” or become the “next big thing.” I can answer that, I think.
Like your health itself, your PHR is a very personal thing. It’s been our experience here at MedeFile that the better people take care of themselves, the more likely they are to have come to us for service. In other words, the “early adopters” of PHR technology are people who put a lot of store in their personal health and want to be sure that they can control as much of it as possible. A PHR is an empowerment, putting more control over the patient’s health into the patient’s hands.
The trouble is that, for now, PHRs are still a relatively new thing. They haven’t been around long and many people have never heard of them (though that is definitely changing). The other problem is that the health care industry as a whole has not adopted many standards for electronic records, which means that there are a large number of proprietary or in-house-only record systems out there that no other provider has access to.
A new Frost & Sullivan report concludes that even with Google Health leaving the market, which made headlines a week or so ago, personal health records (PHRs) are here to stay and will keep on growing in popularity and use.
The report says that PHR options will still appeal to consumers, even if Google is gone, as part of their overall health care strategy. Many new options, including integration with more standardized electronic health records (EHRs) being used inside medical facilities, will continue making PHR options more appealing and user-friendly.
This type of integration is key, obviously, as many are not going to be interested in entering their own information into their own health record. One of the advantages of MedeFile is that we gather records for you, rather than requiring you to enter it yourself as is the case with many others.
The news has been full of stories involving hackers and electronic thieves breaking into systems and stealing data. This has lead to a lot of speculation about the safety of online and electronic health records, including personal health records (PHRs). Let me put your fears to rest with a few facts.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS.gov) keeps an ongoing list of all medical records breaches that involve more than 500 people. The list is public and can be accessed by anyone at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/breachnotificationrule/breachtool.html
Analyzing that data shows some enlightening things. First, most of the stolen data from health information networks or storage centers was taken through means that would not make for much of a Hollywood spy blockbuster. Rather than “hacking” systems or sneaking into secured areas wearing all black, the thieves usually gained access to records through the lax security efforts of the entity in charge of the records. Even more telling is that the records most often stolen were not electronic at all, but were paper-based instead.
Even more illuminating is the fact that of the roughly 300 violations on the HHS list, there almost no cloud-based records are present. The vast majority of the thefts are actually from only four incidences happening over 2 years’ time (2009-2011) and involving more than 6 million patient records in total.