A better way to share and store electronic health records

Box's foray into confusing world of digital health data could be the first step toward consumerizing this messy tech

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The consumerization of health care IT
Whatever Box does in the future, the notion of using a commercial storage service for health records storage and sharing makes a lot of sense. People know the companies, after all, and probably have used cloud storage already. That goes a long way toward encouraging real user and provider adoption (meaningful use, as the feds call it).

It's no surprise that Microsoft and Google were early entrants in the PHR business, Microsoft in fall 2007 and Google in spring 2008. Google pulled out in 2011, I suspect, because it couldn't apply its information-mining, ad-supported business to personal health data, whereas Microsoft probably has a longer view tied into its Office 365, Windows Azure, and SkyDrive businesses.

Box and competitors like Dropbox have an easier economic proposition: charging providers and HIEs for the service, if not patients directly. After all, businesses already pay for enterprise cloud storage. Indeed, Box now has a business selling its enterprise storage service to health care companies for nonmedical records sharing.

Much of what health care IT builds internally, such as for data access, is hard to use, bureaucratically complicated, and limited in relevant functionality. Even systems like the highly regarded Kaiser Permanente patient Web portal are hard to navigate and have that clunky IT feel. The user experience delivery by health care IT is no better than what IT organizations anywhere deliver -- and cause so much user complaint.

Taking a consumerization approach, which really means a good user interface for a service designed for broad engagement, might be just what the health care industry needs to get real adoption and value from all those digital records now stuck in silos.

This article, "A better way to share and store electronic health records," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Smart User blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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