Why Mobile Health Needs PHRs

By Brian Dolan
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Peter Hudson, CEO, HealthagenBy Peter Hudson, M.D., CEO, Healthagen (developers of iTriage)

Personal health records (PHRs) represent a great opportunity for healthcare consumers to take control of their healthcare data and help deliver many meaningful solutions for managing their health. The problem with the current landscape of solutions is that data is not flowing quickly from healthcare systems into central repositories. When this data is available, it is not being delivered to the healthcare consumer in a meaningful way: It's not easy-to-use, mobile, easily shared, or present with them when they need it.

While only seven percent of Americans currently have entered their personal health records into one of the many PHR platforms available, that number actually doubled from the year before.

Smartphone access to this information is critical to widespread adoption of PHRs. Once this information can be delivered with these goals in mind, hospitals and other healthcare systems will prioritize the integration of their data into PHRs, and useful tools can be built on top of PHR data to help patients navigate the healthcare landscape, maintain compliance with medication regimens, find and order products and services relevant to their conditions, manage chronic conditions, and facilitate efficiencies through known medical information.

Making PHRs mobile has been a focus of Healthagen over the past several months, which has resulted in an internal development push to release integration with Google Health records on the iTriage mobile application. Earlier this month, Healthagen began offering consumers mobile access for personal health records on Google Health.

Groups That Need Mobile PHR Access

Let’s face it; never is personal health information access more important than when traveling. When tourists or business travelers hit the road, they usually do so without many important documents other than a driver’s license and passport, including important medical information that may be needed in the event of a sudden illness or injury.

Healthcare practitioners are frequently tasked with re-creating a person’s medical history is raced to the emergency department. Without immediate access to health records, physicians and emergency personnel may have to perform expensive tests to verify medical status before treatment can begin. So, it’s especially important to add your medical history information to one of the many PHR platforms and have it available on your smartphone, if you fall into any of these groups:

  • Frequent business travelers and those traveling often for pleasure
  • Parents of multiple children who need ready access to all family medical records
  • Those individuals with several chronic medical conditions
  • Adults responsible for tracking and managing the health of elderly family members

Medical Information Tracked in a PHR

One of the deterrents to entering a personal health record online, and then making it available on a mobile device is consumer reservation about who sees and shares these records. With personal health records, including Google Health, your records are just that – personal. You control what is entered and to whom that information is released. While many companies are introducing online health record repositories for shared use by doctors and patients, or health plans and consumers, online and mobile access to Google Health PHRs are controlled by the individual. Some of the information that iTriage delivers from Google Health PHRs to your mobile device include:

  • Ongoing and resolved medical conditions
  • Current and past test results
  • List of medications, including dosage, intake method and frequency
  • Past hospitalization and surgeries
  • Immunizations

PHRs When Disaster Strikes

Nothing destroys and uproots our lives like natural disasters. In emergency situations, smartphones provide a lifeline for most people and they will be one of the first things people grab as they flee a disaster area. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, most victims fled without their medication, much less the important documents that would clue medical providers into their current medical conditions.

Many heart-wrenching stories included those from providers who saw elderly patients arriving at their facilities without any medication and no knowledge of what they were taking or what ailment the medication treated. A personal health record that resides online and is accessible on your smartphone can help in these situations.

Personal Health Records and iTriage

For these reasons, as well as making healthcare as data-driven, safe, and communicative as possible, we have added PHR capability into the iTriage platform. Our widespread hospital system customers have also weighed in on their interest in delivering PHR healthcare information to the communities they serve. Critically important to their interest is delivering this information in a way that empowers consumers with mobile access, connects their delivery system to consumers in their community, and gives them an ability to make decisions based on it. The iTriage platform is about sorting through your clinical options, making decisions based on a national directory of healthcare providers, and then taking action. We felt a PHR integration was the perfect framework for enhancing our value to both hospital customers, and our growing user base.

(This is a response to an editorial I posted last week on mobile apps disintermediating incumbent PHRs - BD)