launched a pilot program with Greenway Medical Technologies that will add clinical data from PrimeSuite, Greenway's electronic health record (EHR), to HealthVault's platform.
The joint effort will let patients create a HealthVault account and access their clinical information from PrimeSuite's PrimePatient online portal, including demographics, allergies, medications, vital signs, social and family history, procedures, labs tests, and patient care plans.
Greenway's EHR includes a user interface that allows the doctor-visit data to be shared with the patient, said Microsoft. The physician provides each patient with his or her health information by sending entire clinical summaries or selected elements from PrimeSuite to HealthVault through standards-based Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs). The patient can then log into his provider's PrimeSuite software-powered patient portal and link to the information within HealthVault from there.
[For another point of view on PHRs, see Why Personal Health Records Have Flopped.]
Microsoft's HealthVault is a cloud-based platform that enables individuals to compile and store personal health information from multiple sources in a single location. Microsoft officials also explained that the HealthVault record can access information in Greenway's EHR through tablets and smartphones that use mobile health applications, such as a medication management app like MyMedSchedule.
In an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare, Sean Nolan, Microsoft HealthVault distinguished engineer, said the objective of the initiative is to provide patients with a convenient, automatic way to access their clinical information and to enhance patients' ability to share that information easily during healthcare encounters, such as being able to share their current medications with a new doctor electronically, rather than filling out another paperwork-laden clipboard. The initiative will also benefit from health applications in the ecosystem that add value to the information, for example, tools that keep track of drug interactions or recalls.
"Easy access to valuable clinical data is a must-have, and Greenway has moved the ball forward significantly with this work," Nolan told InformationWeek Healthcare. "As a result, more patients will have the data they need to kickstart their own emergency profiles, communicate better with specialists, keep their family up to date on immunizations, and all the services that HealthVault applications can help with."
Nancy Fabozzi, an analyst at Frost and Sullivan, said she believes the pilot project between Greenway and HealthVault has real potential to gain traction because it addresses some key trends in consumer engagement with health IT.
"Real growth and opportunity in the PHR market will be based around multi-functional tools that are tethered to a provider organization, be it a traditional physician practice, a patient-centered medical home, an accountable care organization, or a hospital," Fabozzi told InformationWeek Healthcare. "For the vast majority of people, PHRs make the most sense when clinical data from providers--all providers--is automatically streamed into the PHR for easy access. That way the PHR is directly connected to the care process--not sitting outside it."
Fabozzi also said the Greenway/HealthVault pilot project reflects a significant shift in consumer behavior that will change the way people interact with their providers. She said PHR applications that reside within provider-sponsored patient portals are the wave of the future.
"Consumers will increasingly demand access to tools like Greenway's PrimePatient portal to handle a wide range of functions in addition to keeping track of their personal health information such as appointment scheduling, requesting refills and referrals, paying bills, conducting research on their medical condition, and even participating in online consultations or 'e-visits.' The pervasive use of smartphones and tablets will be a great facilitator of this trend," Fabozzi added.
Greenway president and CEO Tee Green told InformationWeek Healthcare that patients are demanding that they have greater choices in the way they manage their healthcare and they want the best services to accommodate those needs.
"Patients are becoming consumers of healthcare, not just passive recipients," Green said. "Savvy patients understand that there are more opportunities to manage their clinical data through the use of technology, provider networks, and solution collaborations--like the one between Greenway and HealthVault."
Nevertheless, even with a sound PHR technical infrastructure in place, challenges remain around changing consumer behavior.
According to Fabozzi, ultimately, providers--not the IT vendors--will determine the extent to which various consumer or patient engagement initiatives succeed or fail.
"Getting data connected and having a robust suite of features and functions, including automated data streaming, is essential, but providers need to take the lead on encouraging patients to use these tools and to feel comfortable doing so," Fabozzi said. "While we might need to see a 'carrot and stick' approach somewhere along the line to incentivize consumers, the real payoff for many people will be the convenience factor as PHRs are tied into comprehensive, full-featured patient portals that people will really enjoy using."
Earlier this month, Microsoft and AARP announced the launch of AARP Health Record, an online service that connects to HealthVault to help AARP members manage their healthcare.
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