PHRs: Has the Revolution Arrived?

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Following Dr. Mendelson's session on image sharing this morning, I couldn't get one of his insights out of my mind: that the primary thrust of health care reform is toward reversing medicine's inherently patriarchal culture, empowering patients to control their own health care information.

Throughout the day, meeting with various vendors about their cloud-based and PHR informatics solutions, I couldn't shake the notion that perhaps the time of patient empowerment in health care has finally arrived. A few years ago, when vendors first began demonstrating PHR technology at RSNA, I had a hard time believing patients could ever be compelled to take charge of their own health data.

But, as one exhibitor suggested to me today, what if it were easy, automated, intuitive? And, as Dr. Mendelson said, what if it were as convenient and destigmatized as online banking? After all, is our health data really any more valuable than our financial data?

What do you think? Are we headed for a time when patients will be sufficiently empowered to take charge of their own data, through commercial PHRs or some other means?