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Not Enough Time on My Hands for an Online PHR

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, April 27, 2010

Online PHRs are a great idea. And they might work well—someday. But for now, the hassle factor (supplementing the raw data with details, figuring out which warnings to heed and which to dismiss, and researching what all those medical terms mean) is a huge drawback. One that will likely prevent me from completing an online PHR (let alone comparing a number of them) even though I really want one.

When I described my experience setting up my account to family, friends, and co-workers, even those who like the idea of having an online record they can share with their providers and loved ones agreed it sounded like too much effort. And many noted that even if they did do all that work to create an online PHR, the chances of their online provider actually looking at it or populating it with helpful educational information were slim.

As one person I spoke to noted, physicians barely understand patient experience—are they really ready for the e-Patient experience?

The answer in most cases, in case you were wondering, is no.

Bottom line: I would love an accurate and historical picture of my health in an online format. And I know I'm not alone. But as it stands now in order to make it happen I'm going to have to do most of the work myself. And, after all, isn't the whole point of electronic records to share information between patient and providers? As an uncle of mine said, if the online PHR were a street, it would be a one-way.


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