On May 1st, Cognovant, a Missouri-based startup, announced in a press release that the initial funding for their smart phone app, PocketHealth, was complete. With this announcement, Cognovant also revealed that the app would be released for both Android and Apple operating systems this month.
PocketHealth is the latest mobile personal health record (mPHR) available for smart phones. This isn’t the first mPHR; other popular ones are mPHR 2 and My Medical. However, PocketHealth appears to be one of the first of its kind. It is untethered, which essentially means it isn’t tied to just one insurance company or healthcare provider. While untethered mPHR’s often make the user key in their own data manually, this isn’t necessarily the case with PocketHealth. What also sets this mPHR apart from others is that it was built following CCD standards. Dr. Joseph Ketcherside, the President and CEO of Cognovant, said in an interview with Mobi Health News:
From the user interface standpoint, it might look like every other PHR. But the guts of our PHR are comparable to what you would find in the parts of an electronic medical record.
This is essential, because in the future, if medical providers have to be able to give copies of patient medical information in CCD format. PocketHealth is designed to be able to import that format. This also gives PocketHealth an advantage over other untethered mPHRs because doctors and hospitals that have EMRs integrated into their systems can simply upload the CCD, rather than having to take time to log in to a website or deal with a USB drive to read the patient’s mPHR.
One of the issues with some mPHR is whether or not the information is secure. PocketHealth tries to overcome that problem by having PocketHealth encrypt the data and be password protected.
PocketHealth is a free app, though there will be a 3.99 version that a user can upgrade to if they monitor the health of more than one person or have a complicated medical history. The free version seems good enough, however, and tracks information like immunizations, medical conditions, family and social history, information on providers, and more. In addition, the information can be exported as a report or a CCD.
Because PocketHealth has been released for the Android OS, I decided to download it. This was my first experience with mPHR. I was impressed with all the information that could be recorded, and I can definitely see the benefits of it (well, just the idea of an mPHR to begin with). Because I have no idea where my family will be in a year from now, it would be helpful to have this information available at the tip of my fingers when we visit with a new doctor wherever we move. I also see it being handy if someone is admitted to the hospital in an emergency situation and information needs to be quickly accessed.
However, I see some potential problems, such as if the information wasn’t totally correct. What if someone thought they were O negative blood type, so that was entered into the “vital stats” section, but they were actually A negative? Granted, I’m sure a medical professional would test a blood type, and not just trust the PHR, before doing something like a blood transfusion, but there is always the chance for incorrect information. I do like that PocketHealth is created on the same foundation as an EMR, so information can be directly exported from a doctor’s office. I also was a bit concerned about privacy, but the fact that PocketHealth is password protected and encrypts the data made me feel better.
One thing I didn’t like about the app was that it seemed a bit sluggish. I had to press my selections a few times before it would work, which was kind of annoying. Overall, I think I will probably upgrade to the 3.99 version, so I can track the health of my family and me and have a lot of information readily available.
The Android version can be downloaded here. The version for the iPhone is still in the works but the release is expected to occur in the next few weeks.