Will the Personal Health Record (PHR) pave the way to mobile-connected health records?
At least four companies, led by heavy-weights Microsoft and Google, have set up services to offer Personal Health Records (PHRs) in the last few years in the US. PHRs store patients' medical records so that they can be accessible by patients and health officials as and when needed. Microsoft's HealthVault was started in October 2007, while Google Health has been under development since 2006 and was launched in 2008. Other PHR companies include Dossia, and Tolven.
So what has that got to do with the mobile industry?
With "buy in" from healthcare providers and individuals, the mobile device may become an important tool in monitoring personal health by providing the mobile access point for these PHRs- US mobile health specialist AllOne Mobile announced last year that it would allow mobile access to Microsoft's HealthVault. Theoretically, it should not be too long before mobile networks will be more widely used to transmit patient data; and the smartphone (or the mobile cloud) can be used to store it.
With an optimistic eye, PHR systems represent the potential for significant changes in how medical data is stored and used. In combination with the mobile device they could be particularly powerful, representing a change in "ownership" of health information- from the medical group, or health authority, to the individual, who is thereby empowered. Eventually, the argument goes, "cure" is replaced by continuous monitoring- before the cure is needed.
All very "el dorado", of course, but its worth bearing in mind that the mobile device really could play a crucial role in future health care provision. Unfortunately, the pressures that exist on the healthcare sector world-wide may mean that it will have to.