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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Feb 11 2013   10:21PM GMT

EHR vendors help PHR portals succeed

Posted by: RedaChouffani
API, eClinicalWorks, EHR, Healow, mhealth, PHR

This week, eClinicalWorks announced its new PHR offering, Health and Online Wellness “healow.”  The device is a portal that has a mobile app. It helps patients manage both their and their family members’ health records. The first app to be released can be found in Apple’s iOS app store. No date, however, has been set for the Android native app.

In addition to healow, eClinicalWorks also released their study that documented how effective physicians found mobile health apps to productivity.

Already, there are several mHealth apps available that help patients manage their medical records.  Within them, we can identify three methods patients can use to capture or load their information into PHR systems:

  1. Manually Entered: Most PHR sites allow patients to manage their health records by offering web-based forms for data to be entered manually.  This method tends to be one of the least favorites, as it is tedious and requires data to be updated after every doctor visit.
  2. Import health information from a standardized format: Due to certain meaningful use requirements and the stipulation that certified EHR products must produce a CCR, many medical practices are able to generate a standardized medical record in a standardized electronic format for patients.  Some EHR systems do offer the option for patients to access a web portal and extract the medical record from a secure site, but this still forces the patient to download the necessary information and then upload it to the PHR.
  3. Live Feed from EHR systems: As described in the method above, many PHR vendors do offer the ability to import the HL7 or XML based medical record (CCR), with the EHR vendors offering their own PHR for patients.  One recent option growing in popularity is the availability of direct download of PHR from EHR systems.  For example, a patient can log onto a PHR system and request the download of their record from a connected physician’s or hospital’s EHR system. This option looks to be one of the most effective methods from a patient’s perspective, as it provides them with near real-time data without having to load data.

With the last option being ultimately the most efficient method, there are still challenges that arise when patients switch physicians or move. For one, there is a chance their next physician could not be using the same system as the one before.  The good news is if physicians continue to be asked for medical records exports and the updated requirements associated with Stage 2 and Stage 3 meaningful use, vendors will likely see physicians requesting to have functionality to enable patients to download their records easily or have access to it through their PHR.

This simply means that EHR vendors offering PHR services should consider building or making Application Program Interfaces available in their products to allow other developers to enable connectivity of PHR to those systems.  This will allow PHR systems to easily download records when authorized and allow patients to manage their records from the PHR of their choosing.

Comment on this Post

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durantg  |   May 13, 2013  7:36 AM (GMT)

Yes, I see the need for PHR import into E.H.R.s  and you discuss mainly the Export of E.H.R.s to PHR.  That part is easy, but there are many personal Medical Websites and Apps that need PHR imported into the EHRs and I would like to see more EHRs have “HealthVault” style APIs to upload PHR into the EHRs so that all the Personal Medical Devices and PHR info across various websites can be seen by Hospitals and Physicians using EHR without a lot of expensive Custom API work.


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