Research firm Frost & Sullivan reports that even with Google Health leaving the market, personal health records could succeed when embedded in physician-managed EHRs.
Despite the exit of Google from the personal health record market, the consumer version of electronic health records may have a
future as part of an overall health care IT strategy, according to a report by
research firm Frost &
Increasing use of EHRs (electronic health records) by providers and
payers along with continued development of mobile health tools
could lead to growth in PHRs, the research suggests.
PHRs have a chance at success if they're embedded as a
component of physician-managed EHRs in which the data will be fed from the EHR
into the PHR, according to Jessica Ryan Ohlin, a Frost & Sullivan analyst.
"It's only the very neurotic or chronically diseased
people who are going to be spending the 50 hours entering their
information," Ohlin told eWEEK.
EHRs used by hospitals, community health centers and
community doctors will drive PHR use, according to Ohlin.
"People have not figured out how to monetize the thing
yet, but it is going to happen," Ohlin said. "It's probably not going
to be the type of profits or revenue opportunities that people thought of, and
where the revenue opportunities will accrue is not going to be in the pure
consumer marketing area."
Companies will make money on PHRs only if it's part of a total health care IT strategy.
"You can't just have one piece of the pie; you have to have an
investment across the whole health IT spectrum to be able to accrue
money from the patient or customer relationship part of it," Ohlin
explained. "And that is what a company like Microsoft does with its
enterprise solution and the HealthVault consumer solution."
Consumers won't be required to pay for PHRs, according to Ohlin.
"It's going to be offered as part of a total package that gets paid
for by providers or insurance companies or payers like the government,
and Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, that kind of thing."
PHRs could evolve to be as ordinary a tool as online
banking, she predicted. PHR providers include Epic and Kaiser Permanente.
Epic's Lucy PHR portal allows consumers to pull in medical data from
a physician's EHR platform through the company's MyChart application.
As for Google, health care IT was not a focus for them, Ohlin
The search giant announced on June 24 that it would shut
down its Google Health PHR portal
on Jan. 1, 2012. Customers have until
Jan. 1, 2013, to access data.
"Google Health was never a committed player in this space," she said. "The human and financial capital that it requires
to get into health IT is much higher than many brilliant great minds and great
brands have envisaged."
Google also lacked a relationship with laboratories, Ohlin said.
"One reason people want to get into their health records is to check their
lab results," she noted.
Experts say weak
was a factor in Google Health being shut down.
Frost & Sullivan released the report "U.S. Personal Health
Records Market: Understanding Technical and Strategic Imperatives
Consumer-Focused Health IT" on June 29.
PHR software generated revenue of $312.2 million in 2010, and Frost
& Sullivan predicts the number will hit $414.8 million in 2015.
Still, in 2010, only about 7 percent of the U.S. population used PHRs, mostly for monitoring a chronic