While most healthcare information technology companies race to create the perfect electronic health record, others are attempting to fill patients' needs with a more focused type of health record.
Reliefinsite.com's Web-based application allows patients to track and manage their pain through a personal health record, which is stored in the company's central database. Users log in as often as they'd like to monitor pain levels, medication and run reports that they can send to their physicians. Since the company's inception three years ago, Reliefinsite.com has registered more than 100 doctors and patients, said Fred Eberlein, founder and chief executive officer of the Albany, N.Y.-based company.
In addition to its HIPAA-compliant site, the company also has launched a Facebook platform so people can share information over the social networking Web site.
Companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Google are developing electronic records that encompass all facets of a patient's medical life. By focusing on one component at a time, like pain management, Reliefinsite.com can offer a health record tool that is relevant to the person using it, which might make more patients interested in maintaining an electronic record, Eberlein said. "If you're OK right now, you don't think about being ill," he said.
The company chose pain-management because there is a "well-documented" need for patients to monitor themselves, Eberlein said. "Self-reporting plays a critical role" in pain management and treatment, he said.
John Lovelock, a healthcare IT analyst and director of healthcare research with Gartner, which conducts research and analysis in technology trends, said these types of focused electronic records are "on the path to a complete personal health record." Reliefinsite is "very cleverly" taking the niche approach, he said.
By offering its service through Facebook, the company also has widened its collaborative access, said Hugh Zettel, director of government and industry relations for GE Healthcare and vice chairman of the Electronic Health Record Vendors Association. People can share information with friends and medical staffcreating, in effect, a "small, trusting community," he said.
Focused health records such as Reliefinsite.com are a useful tool in furthering the cause of the electronic record, but they won't replace the clinical-rich data found in all-encompassing electronic health records, he said. "It's going to be a long time before a lot of this shakes out, (but) anything that gets patients actively involved" with their own medical care is a positive thing, he said.
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