Health Care IT Checkup

By Michael Hickins  |  Posted 2008-06-26 Print this article Print

title=Records Ownership}

Which is more urgent: portable electronic health records owned by patients or electronic health care records in the hands of health care providers?

Conklin: These are two very different things, for very different purposes, and so I need to say both are important. In both cases, though, they need to be affordable and have a business model attached to them that makes sense for all parties.

The PHR [personal health record] is important given the increasing mobility of American citizens-also, being very sensitive as a Gulf Coast health care provider, as a source of information in the event of a catastrophe of some kind.

The EMR is necessary, in spite of the recent CBO [Congressional Budget Office] report, because we do believe that it makes care more efficient across the entire service delivery spectrum and increases care quality, as well.

When I say "service delivery spectrum" I mean the entire cycle of care as defined by Michael Porter in "Redefining Health Care." That is, across traditional acute care, through home care and across the myriad other health care services to which a person might go.

So, to me, both these are urgent activities. We approach both as components of our overall strategy.

Temple: Near term, I would say that electronic health care records in the hands of health care providers would be the more immediate priority. I happen to be a huge fan of the notion of PHRs, but I don't think they will be adopted by consumers on a large scale until such time as the various EMR and EHR [electronic health record] systems out in the marketplace can automatically feed data to these PHRs.

In other words, I don't see a lot of uptake by consumers if the PHR mandates that they enter all their own data manually-not to mention that much of what would be inputted would be subject to human error. As EMRs and EHRs get an increasingly large footprint in provider locations and the ONCHIT [Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology] begins to push more on the concepts of standardization and interoperability, I see PHRs taking off. But the first critical event is the increase in provider deployment of EMRs and/or EHRs.



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