Personal Health Records Get Social - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Patient Tools
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Personal Health Records Get Social

ZweenaHealth looks to Facebook and Twitter to encourage consumer education, engagement and ownership of personal health records.

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Personal health record service site Zweena Health recently announced a new social media strategy aimed at educating and encouraging consumers to take ownership of their personal health records. The site, founded over six years ago by John Phelan, collects and digitizes patient records. Now Phelan and his team hope to promote patient engagement through various online initiatives.

"A huge challenge is to try to get consumers to think proactively about their health records -- most people don't think about any of this until they're at risk or in a hospital," Phelan said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. "We're using social media [as] a way [for consumers] to learn about situations that lead up to people wanting to get a health record."

[ Is it time to re-engineer your clinical decision support system? See 10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs. ]

The site's new social media strategy is centered on education, said Phelan, and making people more aware of the benefits of digitizing their health record. ZweenaHealth uses Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets to share information on the basics of a personal health record and why patients should take control of their information. "A lot of our clients tell us they didn't even realize they can have copies of their health records, or that [it's] something they should do before [a medical emergency]."

ZweenaHealth currently has approximately 500 users and has collected more than 5,000 records to date. Users also include health systems that are "forward-thinking in terms of encouraging consumers to have their health records before they get to the hospital," Phelan said. He described the site as being about consumer-centric personal health records, while offering a service that both collects and then digitizes information.

Various software programs exist for patients to collect their own information and then input it themselves into a program -- something Phelan wanted to help consumers bypass. "That was a non-starter," he said. "We have this service-plus approach where we collect records from doctors and hospitals, and then we have a team that scans and collates everything." Phelan said after collecting information, Zweena creates structured data from a patient's health record.

ZweenaHealth is also partnered with Microsoft Health Vault. "They were the first ones ...[to take] a piece of their company and devote it to consumer healthcare," said Phelan. "We created an alliance where basically, when you create a Zweena account, you're also creating a mirrored Microsoft HealthVault account."

Clinical, patient engagement, and consumer apps promise to re-energize healthcare. Also in the new, all-digital Mobile Power issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: Comparative effectiveness research taps the IT toolbox to compare treatments to determine which ones are most effective. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2012 | 5:57:15 AM
re: Personal Health Records Get Social
ZweenaHealth seems to be doing a good job at bridging the gap between patient information and accessibility online by automating/scanning the patient records on behalf of the patients and realizing that patients are unlikely to do that themselves. I would love to see some more statistics on how often that data is actually accessed by patients though and what kind of success stories come from having such information online.

Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2012 | 5:01:02 PM
re: Personal Health Records Get Social
Thanks for the comment Jay. Patient engagement remains the big challenge here for all of us! Happy to share more on the phone 609-651-4826. How we become better health care consumers is changing and we hope that companies like Zweena are helping individuals to be more proactive.
User Rank: Strategist
11/21/2013 | 6:57:03 PM
re: jaysimmons' comment
+1 visibility into growth and engagement (within reason). Exciting to see more people jumping at the opportunities in personal health but current PHRs have (as best anyone can reason) notoriously low engagement rates and it'd be nice to hear how people are successfully combating that.
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