Saturday, December 09, 2006

A PHR from my health insurer? No, thanks.

The buzz continues on personal health records. I got a call yesterday from a reporter asking for my views on PHRs. The Markle Foundation's Connecting for Health initiative just released a new report on PHRs (full disclosure: I'm on their Steering Committee). Paul Levy has recently written about Aetna's PHR on his blog.

I saw Aetna's October press release launching their PHR. I'm an Aetna subscriber, and unfortunately, the press release is all I've seen of their PHR. Actually, that's not really true -- they also have a video tour of their PHR on their website. What they don't seem to have is a place for me to actually create a PHR.

Until I can create one I won't know for sure, but I'm kind of hard-pressed to see what Aetna (or any health insurer) could offer in a PHR that would interest me anyway. I'm already able to access all of my claims on their website through their Aetna Navigator tool -- a great tool which has been there for years. I don't use it very often, but I like knowing it's there.

Through claims, Aetna knows a lot about what they've paid people to do to me -- give me a physical, a colonoscopy, some meds, a cholestrol check. What they don't know is the results of these activities. Was my colonoscopy normal? Do I have high cholestrol? That information is contained in my physician's record, which happens to be in a paper chart in Wellesley MA (I can't access it, but I know where it is!). If I had an Aetna PHR, it wouldn't have much more than my claims information, unless I typed it in........which means it wouldn't have much more than my claims information.

I pay thousands of dollars per year in premiums to Aetna. I'm just one customer, but I wish that my health insurer would devote much more money, PR, and imagination to getting an EHR into the hands of my doctor, and stop wasting my premium dollars on a PHR that I can't create and probably wouldn't use even if I could.......

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