Google PHR is Going Away – What Did We Learn?



The death of Google’s Personal Health Record (PHR) should be a wake up call to everyone about electronic medical records (EMR) – it’s not a walk in the park!

Granted, the fact that EMR is very complex software is not the only reason Google Health couldn’t hack it. Many fine articles and blogs point to under-marketing, an unrealistic reliance on consumers to enter data to complete their own records, unusually slow adoption by consumers, and a possibly unrealistic revenue model (selling data.) I’m pretty sure the readers of Manage My Practice could have predicted most of that, especially the part where consumers are not incentivized to enter their own health information.

Here’s my advice to anyone who wants to capture the health data market:

  1. Any personal health record must be connected to my primary care provider. I don’t want my PHR to be freestanding from my PCP’s (primary care physician/provider) EMR. Really wasteful.
  2. I want someone I know and trust – maybe someone associated with my PCP – to show me how to use and understand the information in my PHR.
  3. I want all my other physicians and test centers to automatically send my records to my PHR and for it to load without my participation.

Wow, that really sounds like my PHR is an offshoot of my PCP’s EMR, doesn’t it? Everyone sends the records to my PCP and my PCP gets the data into her EMR, then information feeds into my PHR in a format I can understand. Maybe my PHR resides in the practice’s patient portal where it is protected and secure, but I can still get to it wherever I am.

Of course, my PCP is already overworked and underpaid, so this scenario isn’t very realistic. Unless…a new HCPCS (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System) service code is developed for “provider and patient load medical records together” and the insurance companies pay for it based on the fact that the more data the PCP has about the patient, the more customized and efficient the care can be. AMA, are you listening?

Photo credit: Mary Pat Whaley

Posted in: Electronic Medical Records, Headlines

Leave a Comment (5) ↓


  1. Poly A. Endrasik Jr. July 5, 2011

    Great article, hits the nail on the head unfortunately.

    One added point, there are still a lot of people who don’t trust the cloud and how can you blame them after they hear about all the “personal data lost” horror stories almost daily in the press or they were / knew friends that were victims of identity theft or they have come to “not trust” insurance companies who may want to use this data for. . .???

    • Abraham Whaley July 5, 2011

      Thanks Poly!

      I think the converging needs for efficiency and privacy make Healthcare IT one of the most fascinating modern fields because we’re having to learn “as we go” how to balance those needs against the tremendous opportunities that better data handling provides the Healthcare industry and consumer.

      Frankly, I don’t blame people that aren’t excited about being on the early part of the adoption curve in Healthcare IT, but at the same time, I think the organizations that are willing to put resources into carefully thought out service offerings for clients and patients based on EMR and “Cloud-based” technologies stand to benefit the most.

      I think the key word you said is “trust”, because the companies and providers that are most able to create and leverage trust in their HIT investments are going to be the biggest success stories.


  2. Lawrence Epstein July 5, 2011

    All: maybe you are looking at it all from the wrong perspective…isn’t it our goal to create PCMH or other patient-centered care opportunities which rely on the initial concept of patient buyin to becoming the focal or central point for the delivery of their own medical care?

    I think this is indicative of the still pervasive mindset that permeates all delivery of care….get me well and I do not really want to know the death defying details of how you the health care professional team does it including collecting my personal health information to attempt to accurately diagnose and treat my disease and/or symptoms…

    This is exactly why there needs to be a birth to death PHR that is probably a mag card or even an implanted chip in the patient which catalogues every health transaction( chip that can even read the times when you take robutussin without physician input)that can easily be read into any provider health recording environment.

    Time to get off my soapbox.

    • Mary Pat Whaley July 5, 2011

      Hi Lawrence,

      Thanks for commenting! I agree with your point and look forward to being first (or second behind you) in line for a chip or a card. Many patients don’t want to know, but I think there are many that do want to know and will take the responsibility but as always, it comes down to the money. Pay me to stay well and I will. Make me pay for healthcare out of my own money and I will be a conscientious shopper.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  3. Poly A. Endrasik Jr. July 8, 2011

    Hi Mary Pat and Abe, if there is anything I can help with, let me know. We, my company, are looking at opportunities to help people get on board with their PHRs too, even if it’s on a wallet card.