On May 31, 2010, British Columbia based Telus Corporation announced launch of a new consumer ehealth service, TELUS health space, powered by Microsoft’s HealthVault. This will allow Canadians access to their personal health record (PHR) files on the internet or on mobile devices, potentially empowering individuals to be better involved in the management of their health. The concept of Web-based patient controlled health records is relatively new. Microsoft launched HealthVault in 2007, Google launched its platform, Google Health in 2008. These PHR services (or patient-controlled health record (PCHR) as they are also called) were originally marketed directly to consumers. However, an article in Health Data Management Magazine observed a change in strategy-- these services are now being offered in partnership with hospitals and emerging health record banks. Partnerships are also being aggressively sought with medical device manufacturers to establish connectivity to various medical devices for home health monitoring, as well with hospital infrastructures to increase capability for data integration and disease management services.
Apparently, this is the first consumer health platform in Canada to achieve Canada Health Infoway pre-implementation certification for providing a secure, interoperable application environment and personal information health platform, and it is also the first international deployment of HealthVault. Telus Corp. is Canada’s third-largest wireless carrier. It is creating an online medical database with Microsoft Corp. to expand its telecommunication services to the health-care industry. While it has faced flagging revenues due to competition in the mobile phone industry, its health-care business is expanding by more than 10% a year and the unit is profitable, according to an article in Businessweek. Telus expects to license its PHR software to healthcare organizations, including provincial governments, health authorities, hospitals, insurers, individual practitioners and employers.
Patient controlled health records have the potential to revolutionize healthcare, but there are some challenges to overcome. Privacy regulation compliance, data integrity assurance, interoperability of devices etc. are technological challenges that are being addressed. However, the full potential of PHRs to revolutionize the healthcare system will only be realized when providers are adequately persuaded of the benefit of sharing data, and patients and providers have access to the education and the tools they need to effectively work with the system.