AARP & Microsoft Launch PHR
Could PHRs be ready to really gain traction? Until now, only about 10% of the public has used a PHR. The concept took a major blow last year when Google announced that it was closing its PHR product, Google Health on 1/1/12.
PHRs may be poised for new growth. The AARP announced this week that it will be partnering with Microsoft to launch “AARP Health Record,” a PHR for people aged 50 and older. The marketing power of AARP, which has 12 million members, should not be underestimated. Its Medicare HMO products are the most popular in the country.
The press release from AARP said that in addition to story a patient’s health data, the new product will offer applications to monitor chronic conditions, share data with physicians and track progress in meeting health goals.
These last three interactive features may be the key to winning new users.
PHRs are “patient centric,” meaning that the patient controls the data. Patient portals are “practice centric” because HMOs and medical groups control the data. PHRs have the disadvantage of using the “pull” model, rather than the “push” model of patient portals.
Patient portals have not been very popular with the public either, with one major exception – Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser’s patient portal is used by 35% of the HMO’s members. The Kaiser portal offers patients the ability to get an online consult and schedule appointments. Kaiser, of course, is a vertically integrated system, controlling all aspects of patient care (e.g. physician visits, lab tests, hospitals).
The AARP PHR will not be able to match that. However, the announcement says it will be able to “share data with physicians.” In theory, a medical group’s patient portal should be able to export data to a PHR. This is rarely done in practice. Medicare beneficiaries are major consumers of medical care. If the AARP PHR were to become really popular, many medical groups might want to link their portal to it.