What’s in it for me? Encouraging patient ownership of PHI Data

How do we encourage patients to adopt ownership of their health data?

New Patient Health Information (PHI) applications and data solutions litter the healthcare marketplace with many more currently in development. As with many other solutions developed for the health sector, questions arise about suitability and adoption. Doctors, on the other side of the industry spectrum, are notoriously reticent to adopt new solutions. The reasons behind their hesitance matter and as in the case of patient adoption of new technology, developers need to heed these.

Offer a doctor a new application or solution and his first question is always, “why do I need this” followed by “does it reduce my workload”. Data-driven solutions often fail to offer significantly satisfying answers to these questions, literally disqualifying themselves before they even step out the starting gate.

If you cannot convince your target sales market that it requires your solution, it’s time to reconsider both your solution and strategy. Many new solutions offering patients ownership of their PHI will fall by the wayside as they fail to correctly address their market and the patient’s actual needs.

What do patients really want?

Ownership of their health data? Really? How many patients fully understand the power and benefits offered by ownership and control of their PHI? It has been my experience that when a lengthy explanation is required to sell something, the sale is a non-starter. Many of the new companies developing solutions for this market assume patients will be beating a path to their door. Why should they? Patients need to be incentivized.

Full disclosure, I am involved in the industry, in conjunction with colleagues seeking to develop a system that will empower patients by ensuring their ownership and control of their PHI. We are however setting about the process a little differently, simply because we don’t believe selling the general public on the importance of their PHI is possible. Not if broadscale adoption is important to the success of a platform.

We believe what patients really want are immediate tangible benefits associated with their healthcare. Cash in their pockets and actual engagement in the processes that determine their care. Let me explain and I will use our business model to outline how we currently perceive the market.

We are developing five separate patient-focused solutions that will eventually underpin a PHI system. Solutions that offer exactly these benefits; paid health surveys, access to paid clinical trials, paid social media sharing tools, the sale of health-related content, and more. All our solutions will be Web 3.0 compliant and built on the blockchain using smart contracts, but again, don’t confuse features with benefits. Features rarely sell something.

Unlike conventional approaches, we aren’t knocking on the patient’s door with a complex data tool that manages their PHI. In our case, the PHI solution will be added, almost as an afterthought, onto a platform enjoyed by thousands of customers already utilizing our “introductory” suite of tools. Trust will already be established with our client base and much of the relevant data required to populate the patient’s PHI will already exist within our eco-system. 

Trust versus benefit

Perhaps the most damaging fallout from the pandemic has been to the public and the healthcare sector relationship. Misinformation and horrendous pandemic mismanagement have cost the relation years of hard-earned trust. Large swathes of the public now view the industry as a whole with a mixture of disdain and distrust. As unpleasant as this may be to accept, it is a fact and the damage will take years to repair.

We cannot however wait years. We MUST return ownership of health data to the patient. Common sense and ever-increasing risks from data theft and the illicit sharing and sale of PHI (another nasty but undeniable fact) demand it. How we set about this process matters and for effective adoption, we have to develop with the patient in mind. 

Their needs, their priorities, and their limited understanding of the power that resides in their data all need to be addressed. Enable and educate. Rather than offering them ownership of an asset, the value of which they don’t fully grasp, I believe we start by allowing patients to share in the profits generated by their data, sharing in the processes that determine their health, and placing them on an equal footing in the patient/provider relationship.

Simple, functional tools are required to achieve this. tools that will lead to the eventual establishment of a leveled playing field, restoring trust and improving communication between the two key elements in healthcare. The providers and their patients.

Blinded by the light

All the above would appear reasonably self-evident. Most patients and many within healthcare would agree with the views I have expressed above and yet we are still forging ahead with project after project that ignores these basic fundamentals, not only where patients are concerned, but also for providers.

Not enough basic research is being performed into the actual need for a solution, in either of the above groups. The best-conceived ideas that fly on paper often crash spectacularly on execution. Understanding, really understanding, the market you are developing for is perhaps the most important part of your business model. Needs drive adoption, practical and simple drive adoption. Innovation is not a need and cannot create one where none are perceived.

Speak to your market, understand your market and engage with it, long before you decide to cure it of ills you perceive from afar. As investors become more circumspect about the “fake it till you make it” mindset that pervades startups, acquiring seed capital will become far more challenging. Doing your homework will pay off in ways you cannot imagine and benefit both you and your target audience, patients and providers alike.


Medika Life has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Medika Life

This article lives here: Healthcare Policy and OpinionWhat’s in it for me? Encouraging patient ownership of PHI Data
Robert Turner, Founding Editor
Robert Turner, Founding Editorhttps://medkoin.health
Robert is a Founder of Medika Life. He is a published author and owner of MedKoin Healthcare Solutions. He lives between the Philippines and the UK. and is an outspoken advocate for human rights. Access to basic healthcare and eradicating racial and gender bias in medicine are key motivators behind the Medika website and reflect Robert's passion for accessible medical care globally.

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