Do People Want to Share Personal Health Information?

In the summer of 2007 I interviewed a cancer patient who was using Grand River’s oncology portal (My CARE Source) for an article in Healthcare Information and Communications Canada magazine.  My goal was to get a users view of the value of this service.  Having survived Hodgkin’s disease as a teenager, the person who I interviewed was able to compare what it was like to battle cancer with and without the help of a computer-based tool.  I was reminded of this interview when I read the following blog post about a new feature of Google Health that facilitates the sharing of personal health information:

http://www.thehealthcareblog.com/the_health_care_blog/2009/03/google-health-sharing–simple-but-potentially-important.html

Although the person I interviewed did not use the phrase “Personal Health Record” (PHR) during our conversation, she did offer a perspective echoed by many PHR supporters.  She emphatically stated several times during our conversation that she felt very strongly that “they [her medical records] are my records and I feel that I should be able to have immediate access to them when I want.”  Further, she asserted that she should be able to offer access to these records to whoever might be involved in any aspect of her care.  

The blog post to which I refer above suggests that “the big next phase is people offering to share these records with their physicians. We’ll see but this may well be the killer app the PHR has been looking for—after all now a doctor just needs one Google sign-in which they almost certainly have anyway, and they can see all the Google Health PHRs of the patients who start sharing their records with them. And they will. This has the potential to be really disruptive.”  What do you think of this perspective?  Do you think that we will see physicians and patients electronically sharing health information?

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