Google and Microsoft Corp. both recently announced quarterly earnings statements reflecting some of the economic turmoil companies are experiencing. While the statements don't specify metrics about how their respective personal health-record products are faring, providers and consumers both believe that individual medical records will continue to have a place in health information technology.
Google posted revenue of $5.51 billion for the quarter ended March 31, a 3% decrease compared with the last quarter of 2008. Net income on that revenue was $1.42 billion compared with $382 million for the last quarter of 2008. Microsoft reported $13.65 billion in revenue for its fiscal third quarter ended March 31, nearly 18% less than its quarter ended Dec. 31, with net income of $2.98 billion. Neither Internet giant breaks out specific healthcare-related numbers.
What role PHRs will play in the coming discussions of electronic records, interoperability and health information exchange, as the federal government starts to allocate health IT funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, remains to be seen. PHRs provide a valuable tracking system for patients with chronic conditions who have a host of medications and treatments to manage, users say.
The consumer research group User Centric conducted a usability study of both Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault and found participants were interested in personal records, said Robert Schumacher, managing director for the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based User Centric. The two companies command high brand recognition. People already have strong opinions of Google and Microsoft as information providers, Schumacher said.
Consumers like PHRs for managing chronic conditions and the host of medication and treatments that come along with them, Schumacher said. Still, whats missing from the healthcare industry is a killer app that really connects a PHR to the rest of a patients health experiencelike the software application allowing people to conduct online bill payment that helped spur IT in the banking industry, he said.