As regular readers know, I work for Mayo Clinic, so my opinion on this isn’t exactly objective, but I think the launch today of Mayo Clinic Health Manager is pretty significant.
I’ve had the opportunity over the last several months to learn about this product as it’s been in development, and it’s got some neat advantages that I think make it a step beyond what’s available currently in the world of personal health records.
- Portability. Some other products are sponsored by employers or health plans. In Mayo Clinic Health Manager, the record belongs to you, so if you change jobs you don’t have to worry about having to re-enter data.
- Personalized Mayo Clinic guidance. Based on the data you put into the program, you’ll get tailored recommendations for steps you can take to improve your health, screening tests you should have, and the like. The more data you provide, the more useful recommendations you will receive.
- Being connected to Microsoft HealthVault. This gives a couple of important benefits. First, you have strong security for your data. When I set up my account, it made me choose a password that was a lot stronger than what I typically use, for example on my Facebook account. And as more pharmacies, hospitals and medical devices provide for automatic upload of data to HealthVault, that will improve the personalization of recommendations you can get from Mayo Clinic experts.
I did a post last year about Turbotax and how much I like it for doing my personal income taxes, and how I could do my taxes in an hour because all of the data from my six children (some of whom are no longer dependents) could be carried over from year to year, saving me having to enter the data anew each year. At the same time, I don’t worry at all about the safety of my tax records. I’m confident that Intuit has it covered. And it’s great to have the deduction finders, and audit alerts and error checking, not to mention electronic filing.
I think the same principles will hold with Mayo Clinic Health Manager. Getting the data entered once into a safe place will simplify managing your health. You’ll be able to produce an immunization report, for instance, with a couple of clicks. You’ll get expert guidance tailored to your health situation. And you can make notes of the questions you wanted to be sure to cover in your visit to the doctor, so that you can print it out and take it with you. No more worrying about forgetting to cover your important concerns because you freeze up in that anxious moment with your health care provider. It should make those visits more orderly and productive, too.
But while Turbotax charges for electronic filing of your federal and state tax returns, Mayo Clinic Health Manager is completely free. The other thing I like about the program is that it lets you enter data in small chunks as you have time. I just added my height and weight, along with my history of colon cancer screenings.
Unlike the IRS, Mayo Clinic Health Manager doesn’t require you to meet a deadline for “completing your return.” In fact, you’re never really done. But as you put in more information, and as the product grows in providing more tools to give you guidance based on your data, it will improve your ability to manage your health (and that of your loved ones who grant you access to their records, such as aging parents, your spouse or children.)