Microsoft’s HealthVault has released their HealthVault Connection Center that begins to make Personal Health Records functional. I’ve been experimenting with various Personal Health Records and have installed one, Healthe Connections (formerly IQHealth) as part of a patient portal. One of the problems that we’ve uncovered is while these portals are great for looking at the Electronic Medical Record as a portal, they are really poor at enabling us to manage our own health information.
The primary difficulty with most PHRs is they are so labor intensive in that each of us as a patient must manually enter data into the record in order to maintain an accurate and up-to-date record. Very few of us are willing to do so nor do we have the time and the expertise to do this. Both Google Health and Microsoft’s HealthVault are working hard to make it easy for information to be automatically uploaded into the Personal Health Records and are creating database links to an ever increasing number of healthcare entities. Microsoft has gone one step farther and also created a Windows Sidebar gadget that quickly enables a user to upload measurements into HealthVault effectively lowering the barrier to information maintenance.
The HealthVault connection center also contains an ever expanding set of links to electronic devices (glucometers, scales, blood pressure cuffs, etc.) that can be configured to upload their data directly into HealthVault via USB connections. These are easily installed as using the Setup device.
Hopefully in the near future all EMRs will automatically be configured to link into one or all of these Personal Health Records which will eventually enable bidirectional data flow so that physicians using their own EMRs will automatically receive and update patient medical histories when patients register or schedule a visit.