A PHR turning point

So, as you'll see in this issue of FierceHealthIT, it appears that the giant PHR project sponsored by mega-employers like Intel, AT&T and Wal-Mart is back underway. Unlike some PHR versions being considered out there, the new Dossia record won't rely heavily on patient record-keeping, but rather, will be populated with large volumes of data from hospitals, physicians and pharmacies. At the outset, the group had promised to develop a joint records standard as well, though subsequent news articles haven't mentioned this initiative.

In my view, this is a turning point for the concept of the PHR (a term Dossia doesn't use, but others have to describe the project). While the group's spokespeople have said that they want to encourage employees to use the data to shop smarter for healthcare, it's clear from this approach that Dossia heads aren't going to sit and wait around for employees to make things happen.

If I'm reading things right, the Dossia PHR breaks away from other models in which consumer updates of data is paramount. If a PHR is defined by the records consumers make of their own treatments, and the extent to which they document, say, family medical histories or drug allergies, this ain't it. I'm sure the employers, like other large purchasers, plan to give employees the opportunity to add their own information, but this is a data warehousing project first and foremost.

Which raises this question: Is there really a lot of value in focusing on the consumer end of things--making a personal health record really personal?  Or have these market leaders cast the decisive vote in favor of third-party data?  Is there a separate tier in which patient-driven PHRs will have their own role?  I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but it seems to me that this is a good time to ask.

Readers, do you have any thoughts on this subject?  If so, I'd love to hear more. As I've discussed before, it seems pretty clear that the PHR concept is evolving. The question is what it will be when it grows up.- Anne