What are the implications for electronic health records in an era of consumers’ adoption of mobile phones and online social networks?

That’s the question posed and pondered by Aviv Shachak and Alejandro Jadad of the University of Toronto, published in this weeks Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The opportunity is to build a people-centered health system, they say, the kind envisioned in the IOM’s report, Crossing the Quality Chasm.

Drs. Shachak and Jadad propose 7 building blocks to use when adopting EHRs that will help the U.S. get to the Holy Grail of people-centered health:

1. Use tools to promote health, not just deal with acute disease.
2. Make it interoperable and integrated.
3. Use multimedia to ensure usability and clear communication.
4. Support virtual interactions.
5. Integrate available social networking tools.
6. Promote optimal health outcomes and resource appropriately.
7. Adopt open and collaborative systems, and balance privacy, learning from the successful models such as PatientsLikeMe and the Genetic Alliance.

The authors conclude that these components would help optimize the $20 billion spend on EHR adoption included in ARRA stimulus funding.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: As health citizens take on more responsibility for making clinical care decisions and financial outlays for themselves and their families, they need data liquidity: the free movement of information. Think of data liquidity as an underpinning for a consumer-driven health market. In addition, transparency and useful, usable tools add to the well-oiled machine that enable participatory health.

That’s, ultimately, what a people-centered health system should be about, and what Dr. Shachak and Dr. Jadad are proposing. These seven pillars would make the difference between EHR adoption that serves doctors and payers, and EHR adoption that enables participatory health.

{Ironic that two researchers based in Canada came up with this framework. O Canada! I must profess a bias here, as my mother was Canadian and I have many attachments to our neighbor to the north.}