I recently happened upon the interoperability page on Epic’s website. Yes, I realize the irony of Epic and interoperability in the same sentence. In fact, that’s why I was so intrigued by what Epic had on their website about interoperability.
I’ll leave what they called the “physician-guided” interoperability using their Care Everywhere product for another post. In this post I just want to highlight their “freestanding Personal Health Record (PHR)” section. I was most intrigued by what Epic lists on that page as the “two primary obstacles to patient PHR adoption”:
Lucy [Epic’s PHR] is free of the two primary obstacles to patient PHR adoption:
1. There are no advertisements on Lucy.
2. Epic will not sell patient data for secondary uses.
I find this really intriguing. Let’s look at each one individually.
First, I can’t say I’ve ever heard someone say that the reason they aren’t using an EHR is because of the advertisements. I’m sure there are a few out there that wouldn’t enjoy the ads and might not use a PHR because of them, but I believe they are few and far between. Plus, PHR use has been so low that most haven’t used a PHR enough to have seen ads. So, that’s not an obstacle. Not to mention, what PHR software has ads there now? As best to my knowledge Microsoft HealthVault, NoMoreClipboard and even the now defunct Google Health have never shown ads before.
Now to the second point about selling patient data for secondary uses. This could potentially be a bigger issue. There’s little doubt that there’s value in aggregate health data. A PHR is a legitimate way to collect that aggregate health data. Some certainly have some fear of their individualized health data being learned and so they don’t want to input their health data into a PHR. However, I believe there’s a larger majority that don’t care about this all that much. Sure, they want to make sure that the PHR uses proper security in their system. They also don’t want their individual data sold, but I expect a large user base doesn’t really care if aggregate healthcare data is sold in order for them to get a product that provides value to them.
In fact, this highlights the real problem with PHR software generally. To date, the PHR has offered little value to the patient. This is the primary obstacle to patient PHR adoption. I’ve hypothesized previously a couple things that could change that patient value equation: physician interaction in the PHR and paper work completion.
The real problem with PHR software is providing the patient value, not ads or sold patient data.