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January 29, 2019

Personal Health Records: More Promising in the Smartphone Era?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Diego
  • 2Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego
  • 3Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego
JAMA. 2019;321(4):339-340. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.20434

As health care delivery organizations shift from implementation of electronic health records to optimization of these systems, the persistent problem of patient data interoperability is becoming increasingly relevant. Interest in accessing medical information from hospital records and databases and providing convenient patient-controlled portable records is increasing. Technology companies are seeking to develop innovative solutions to meet these demands.

Interoperable personal health records are not a novel concept; unsuccessful attempts to collect digital patient records have been pursued by several major technology companies. As 1 of the first 12 health care organizations to integrate one company’s next-generation approach (Apple Health Records) into a patient portal, UC (University of California) San Diego Health is assessing whether this new functionality can overcome prior challenges and catalyze systemic change toward meaningful patient-controlled interoperability.1

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2 Comments for this article
Apple's focus on consumer needs will ultimately succeed
Guy Cooper, Bachelor of Commerce | Health app design and development
People working in the healthcare industry, in Australia at least, are quick to critique Apple's foray into Health but the results of their push into personally controlled health care records in such a short space of time speak for themselves (the number of hospitals in reference 8 of this article is closer to 200+ now and growing rapidly!). A consumer-led innovative company with Apple's weight combined with partnerships with others like Amazon, standards like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR - an EHR interoperability standard) will go a long way to solving some of the problems around interoperability.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Wave Digital Managing Director (http://wavedigital.com.au) - Partners with Apple Consultants Network and Amazon Web Services.
Research on Data Access and Outcome Improvement
David Levesque, Electrical Engineering | Andaman7 - A unique personal health record platform
I really like this thorough review of the history of patient engagement and PHRs, and the potential improvements suggested by the authors.

The authors conclude saying "Whether these technological advances ultimately improve patient outcomes, lower costs, and improve quality remain the most important unanswered questions."

I wonder if they are aware of the AHA research on digital access and engagement showing that over 37% of the population has added personally generated health data to their health record. (1).

OpenNotes has done some great research on the correlation of patient access and management of their health information and its impact on
outcomes. (2)

While neither of these examples are based on a mobile personal health record technology platform, they do show patient willingness and ability to participate in management of their health information alongside positive outcomes for patients and providers.

I can only imagine that patients with more complete, structured, and easy-to-access health information management tools will continue to improve outcomes.


1. https://patientengagementhit.com/news/patient-access-to-health-data-portal-access-surges-to-92

2. https://www.opennotes.org/on-research/
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: I work forr Andman7, a company that provides a personal health record platform