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Consumers remain wary of personal health records

Lucas Mearian, Computerworld | April 21, 2011
Personal health records are a method of storing and accessing health information online, and while big-name companies like Google and Microsoft are behind the largest of these data stores, adoption of the services remains stagnant, a new survey and research report found.

Hospital or physician websites are the source of 25% of the PHR systems that respondents to the 2011 survey use, while health plan websites account for 21.4%. Physicians continue to play a major role in PHR use: 36.9% of the respondents who use PHR systems said they do so because it was recommended to them by their care provider (e.g., a physician, specialist, or nurse) and 13.5% of those who don't said they would use one if their care provider recommended it, IDC stated in its report.

One problem that has plagued PHR platforms that aren't provided by third parties like Google and Microsoft is that when consumers switch health plans or employers, information stored in their sponsored or tethered PHR systems could not be readily transferred to a new system, thus discouraging people from adopting a new PHR system, according to the report.

But tools like Dossia, Microsoft HealthVault, and Google Health were developed to help people aggregate their health information in one place even if they changed employers or health plans or were treated by multiple healthcare providers.

For example, Walmart was the first employer to offer Dossia's PHR system to its employees, but other companies, including AT&T, BP America, Intel, Pitney Bowes, and Vanguard Health System, have also rolled out Dossia PHRs. In all, 90,000 people have access to Dossia through their employers, IDC said.

The research firm predicts that PHR adoption rates will be modest over the next one to three years.


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