Free The Data: Patients As Consumers

Mark Braunstein | InformationWeek | December 24, 2013

Standard APIs are beginning to remove the barriers to effective Personal Health Record systems.

Patients seeking to take control of their health data are starting to get the tools to do so.

My last column discussed the emerging liberation of health data that has traditionally been "imprisoned" in proprietary electronic health record (EHR) systems. I pointed to the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements for providers to actually share data with their patients and the unveiling of the first few app stores from EHR vendors as a harbinger of things to come.

Parallel changes have been taking place in the personal health record (PHR) space for quite a while now. The topic of personal health records was extensively covered for Information Week back in April 2012 by Anthony Vecchione. Anthony identified several approaches to a PHR based on technology and sponsorship.  Microsoft's HealthVault is arguably the best known example of a free, standalone PHR that is managed exclusively by the patient. Of course, this is a space where Google Health played until its PHR shut down in 2011. (Google isn’t out of the health space, however, as demonstrated by its recent announcement of Calico, headed by Apple and Genentech chairman Art Levinson, to develop technologies to tackle health issues related to aging.)