The Personal Health Record : Jewel in the Crown of an Ideal Health System

When I listened to the very talented Associate Medical Director of Quality & Informatics, Matt Handley, MD (okay, he’s my boss), speak on a panel about Patient Safety on Seattle’s KUOW, one thing stood out very clearly to me. As the leader accountable for quality and safety activities for the organization, his first comments were about the value of the personal health record to the organization. This is in consideration of the numerous activities that Group Health undertakes every day on behalf of its members. He chose to lead off a discussion of the impact of the online personal health record (PHR).

This says something very significant about the value of a PHR when it is integrated into the workflow of an “ideal” health system, in terms of aligned incentives.

I encourage readers to listen to the broadcast and notice how each system leader addresses the issue of patient safety, and compare their approaches. If you were asked by the media to comment about your organizations’ efforts to promote patient safety, what would you lead off with? How would you conceptualize the value of a PHR in your answer (whether or not you currently operate one)?

Ted Eytan, MD