EMRs, PHRs, Patient Portals…and your privacy

In August, the National Coordinator for Health IT, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, spoke about the need for a ‘targeted strategy’ to involve consumers in eHealth. He is concerned that all of the efforts being expended to acquire EMRs and for eligible providers (EPs) to achieve meaningful use of those EMRs must become more patient-centered.

One provision of the meaningful use requirements that will become increasingly important is the need to be able to provide an electronic version of the medical note to the patient. While there are a variety of ways by which this can be accomplished, Personal Health Records (PHRs) and Patient Portals into the provider’s EMR are two.

My own insurer provides a PHR on their website. I can enter lots of personal information about myself and my health if I choose to do so. Superficially, it appears this information can be accessed only by me, but I do not believe this is the case. The insurer can likely access the information too. Since it is mostly info they can get from my claims (and the claims history is available on the page), I am not too concerned about it, but I have been somewhat careful about entering things. If I were not pretty healthy, I think I would enter nothing.

The PHR to which I have access is a proprietary one. In August, Google removed their hat from the ring by discontinuing Google Health as a service effective January 1, 2012. Microsoft is well-entrenched in the healthcare arena, so I believe they will keep their product, Microsoft HealthVault, around. I wonder of what use these will be until providers can send information to the PHR for the patient.

For the last few weeks, I have been working with our web designer on re-writing our website. Now that so many people access the internet from their smart phones, we want to be sure the site works well on mobile phones and tablets. This focus has me wondering about a few things. I hope you can clear up some of these for me.

  1. How many of you use a PHR?
  2. Do you feel secure storing your personal medical information online?
  3. Do you use a smart phone for email?
  4. If so, for what other purposes do you use the smart phone?

I am hoping I will get some comments and responses from you. I wonder how many of you feel comfortable with the speed with which our lives are moving into ‘the cloud’.

Please jump in now. This inquiring mind really wants to know!

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