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Over the last two decades, the early development of standalone Personal Health Records (PHRs), and later tethered patient portals, have had a transformative effect on engaging patients by providing them with tools to manage their health and unprecedented access to their heath data. However, despite anticipated benefits and continued high consumer demand for online access to personal health information, adoption and sustained use has been less than expected. Moreover, powerful forces are transforming healthcare, necessitating change and adaptation.
This aim of this paper is to examine several significant trends that are influencing the intersection of health care and technology and provide an assessment of the impact of these trends on the future of PHRs and patient portals. An aging population with an increased prevalence of chronic disease and mental health conditions, coupled with rising consumerism and more diverse care settings, has significant implications for patient-facing tools such as patient portals. Similarly, the proliferation of data generating consumer health technology and technical advances such as artificial intelligence and emerging data standards calls for the next iteration of tools to support care delivery. Moreover, the acceleration of virtual care driven by national policy changes and the COVID 19 pandemic requires better tools to realize the promising potential of the technology in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.
Taken together, these factors may provide the perfect storm that will enable a critical shift to envision a more holistic patient-centric information and resource hub that is characterized by improved architecture, optimized design and content, a robust set of well-designed tools and functions, and enhanced integration with clinical care processes and structures. This personal health portal could provide a long desired single comprehensive longitudinal personal health record with best of breed design and features to empower patients as they navigate their health journey.
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