Monday, March 10, 2008

Google Gets Personal With Medical Records

news you may not knowThis Could Get Tricky...

It's a huge problem. Unless you're incredibly healthy, or simply refuse to see the doctor, you've got records. Medical records, x-rays, lab tests, charts, doctor's notes, annotations, and pages and pages of miscellaneous scribbles. The problem is how to manage them.

How do you get your records from here to there? Well, it usually means a phone call, or a fax to authorize release, or a letter, or a visit in person. Then, it's on to the next provider, and the next, ad infinitum. There's got to be a better way, don't you think?

Google thinks so too. In their quest to set all things digital in order, Google has turned to the complicated arena of personal medical records with the launch of Google Health. While others, including Microsoft and former AOL's Steve Case, have already entered the fray, Google's entry is causing quite a stir.

They've teamed up with some heavy hitters in the health care field, including the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. The goal is to establish a private electronic collection site for medical records. The site will be password protected and access controlled by the patient. If all works according to plan, the process of forwarding medical records in the future will be as simple as a few clicks of the mouse.

Google has also teamed with Quest Diagnostics, health insurance provider Aetna Inc., and the pharmacies of Walgreen's and Wal-Mart. The eventual goal is to make Google Health a one-stop portal, where consumers can refill prescriptions, schedule medical appointments, and manage health records.

Google plans to make the service available for free - they expect to earn income through revenues generated when consumers search for health related topics from the site.

Keep your fingers limber and go out and buy that new mouse. You'll want to be ready.

To read more about Google Health, see this from Reuters. To read more about the competitive offerings, see this from HealthVault, and this from Revolution Health.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Charm said...

I want Google to have as little of my personal information as possible in its databases.

1:19 AM  
Blogger tim said...

Charm:

Yes, it's a bit of a dilemma, isn't it? Many folks are concerned about privacy, while others crash full speed ahead with electronic medical records.

Personally, I favor the move toward electronic management - with encryption and other safeguards.

Thanks for stopping by,

tim

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Charm said...

I think moving toward electronic management of medical records is inevitable. I'm just not comfortable with giving Google that much access to personal information. I think the data are better managed by companies that already specialize in health care.

Google's got its hands in too many projects, and having one entity managing so much of the personal health information of so many people/companies/organizations opens up more people to the risk of exposure of personal information and/or identity theft. Google will become a prized target for hackers. That is not to say that there would be no risk with other smaller sites that managed personal health information, but your (generic "your") data may as well have a big "bullseye" painted on it if it is managed by Google, in my opinion.

Another issue I have with Google is how the decision makers at Google manage/project their biases via their corporation. They do not simply provide the same services to all at this time. There have been reports of Google flagging certain sites that come up in user searches, with content contrary to the personal ideologies of some in their company, so that the user receives a message that the site may harm the user's computer in some way. This may redirect certain people who were looking for particular sites away from them because, of course, they do not wish to risk damaging their computers.

I have also heard of people who earn money through their blogging by including links to sponsor's sites in their posts, and whose earnings are based on a Google ranking, have their rankings reset to zero when Google somehow identified them as a source that was blogging for $$$. It is theorized that some of this may be related to lost revenues by Google. Although this may seem anecdotal, I have serious concerns about a company that would express its political or ideological views through means that are restrictive, potentially meet the criteria for censorship, or otherwise hinder what would otherwise be a more unrestricted flow of information through the Google data clearinghouse. It is an unprofessional and unethical way to do business.

A-n-d . . . that's all I have to say about that. Sorry for being so long-winded, and thank you for the welcome. :)

2:21 AM  
Blogger tim said...

Charm:

Not a fan of Google?

Well, you're not alone. There are many folks who feel Google has become way too powerful, and that they have access to far too much personal data. I must admit, I also have some concerns about their reach.

But, they'll continue to be the major force in electronic management of data.

So, as I originally said, it's a bit of a dilemma...

Thanks for the additional comments.

Have a great day,

tim

8:07 AM  

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