Google Health

Google seems to have a way of slipping new stuff in without broadcasting it to anyone. In this case, the latest thing they’ve added is something called Google Health. What it does, quoted from them, is:

* Organize your health information all in one place

* Gather your medical records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies

* Share your information securely with a family member, doctors or caregivers

Once you sign up, you can start creating a medical history profile of yourself, indicating diseases, doctors, treatments, etc. You can also try to hook them up to get your medical records from your hospital or physician, as supposedly they’ve signed with a lot of hospitals to allow that to take place.

If you put all of your medications in, it will warn you if some of them aren’t supposed to be taken together. This one is actually quite valuable, something I know from personal experience with my mother, where different doctors gave her different things without paying attention to what she was already taking; very dangerous situation.

Their purpose is to give you a place online where all your medical information is stored, and where you can easily share it with anyone you wish to, such as another doctor whom you may go to for a consultation, without having to formally request your medical records again.

It’s neat and scary at the same time. You can add it to your current Google profile, if you have one, or obviously create a new one if you don’t already have one. That part is neat; the part about worrying who might steal your password or hack your account and thus get all this other information is the scary part. Then again, with many web services that allow you to save something online to be able to retrieve it somewhere else, you’re already doing that. But with medical records, you’d want to make sure your SSI# wasn’t stored somewhere in there, which is what thieves would be looking for. Anything else, well, they might find something and start sending you pharmaceutical ads, but that’s probably the worst thing I could think of, other than embarrassment of conditions you might not want anyone knowing about.

Anyway, take a look for yourself to see what it’s all about. I’m not going to be going that route just yet, in case you were wondering.

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42 comments on “Google Health

  • I heard that Microsoft was going to do something like this, but I guess Google beat them to it. I think that in some ways, it’s a great idea to have all of your medical information in one place, so you don’t have to give your medical history every time you visit a new doctor, or are out of town and have an emergency. At the same time, the security risks are unimaginable if someone malicious got into that database.

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    • That’s my thought, Kristi. Being in the medical field, I see both sides of this one myself. Electronic medical records are the wave of the future, but I’m not quite sure this is what anyone was talking about.

  • Donace | TheNexus says:

    I remember when this was first announced, there was a big debate over security and licensing of such information.

    The UK was planning a central DB to coincide with the ID cards and giving access to these records to hospitals and possibly insurance companies.

    I’ll come back and write a longer reply and my worry about this service after I finish some work but I will point you to my earlier article on similar grounds:

  • Yes, I do agree that personal information can be stolen .. but the product seems promising!!

    • It might be promising, Steve; I know I’m not going to be the first one to find out, though.

  • David Hopkins says:

    Thanks for your comment.

    This is a very strange one. I am just wondering what the privacy policy is for it. Can imagine there are a lot of companies that would like to get their mits on the data from Google Health.

    • David, the truth of the matter is that the companies would have to know how to break into Google to get the information, and I doubt many companies are tech savvy enough to do that. It’s the hackers I worry about, because they have nothing but time on their hands and malice in their minds, and the things they could possibly do with that information if they got it,…

    • Well Spot (Spot, eh?), you’re right in saying there is a cost of not doing it, but I’m not so sure that cost is worth it. For instance, companies aren’t supposed to be able to have access to that information per HIPAA, but it’s possible that a company could make someone give them access to get a job if it’s on Google, saying they were already giving approval for open access to everyone. It would be a dicey legal point, but one never knows.

  • Vancouver Web Design says:

    Its a good feature and most of the people would be using it But I think that by using this feature google would know about the health records of all its users and who knows some day they would be using this information to show you relevant ads . I think that google is invading our privacy now

    • Actually Seedin, I don’t think all that many people will be using it. One, most people don’t know about it, and two, most people still won’t shop online for fear that someone will steal their credit card, so they’re certainly not going to put their medical information out there.

  • I won’t dare to put my own health on the Google profile, as I don’t want anyone else to know about my personal health situation, Mitch! Maybe this stuff wasn’t tailored for me here…

    • Everyone has to make their own decisions, Wil, as to their comfort level at doing something like this. I’ll say that if I were older, as in my 70’s, I might think it’s a good idea to do, especially if I’m still pretty mobile and getting around a lot. At my present age, though, I just think “no”. I have my medic alert bracelet; that will have to suffice.

  • web design miami says:

    Don’t thing I’ll use it. Don’t think I’d like google to have even my health info. It’s enough that they already know that much about me…

    • I hear you, Lubie. And I’m not so sure they’re not already sharing a lot of our information with different governments around the world, regardless of their protestations.

    • LOL! Sire, the thigns we learn about you. 🙂 Still, that’s an important concern; will you start receiving all sorts of email, or even Google ads on sites you visit, aimed at medical stuff because they know your medical history.

  • Yep, that’s it in a nutshell, and of course you know I was only kidding about my medical condition 😀

  • Well I could do a video to prove otherwise but somehow I don’t think that would go down too well so I’ll just let things be for now. 😀

    • Heck, you could put it on your LOB blog; Google isn’t indexing it anyway. lol

    • I hope it all works out, Rob. There’s certainly going to have to be a lot of distrust to overcome before either one of these programs grow.

  • Jumping in late here, but nonetheless it’s an important discussion. Privacy is a concern, but I don’t feel like my files are all that better protected in the open cubbies at my doctor’s office. I see a real value in being able to put all of my information, and my kids’ information, in one place so I have quick access. Frankly, I cannot remember what I made for dinner last week, much less when the last time my kids had a cold. As for choosing Google Health, there are a lot of options cropping up out there. I was just looking through the Mayo Clinic Health Manager, which my mom asked me about, and it had a lot of interesting tools and options. There will be some ideas that may not be good (I was just giggling at the notion of Twitter My Results!) but, to me, digital health records isn’t one of them.

    • Hi Lori, and thanks for the comment. Since I’m in health care, I may have a skewed vision of this whole thing. Most people probably don’t have to worry about it all that much, even if their information is cracked. However, it’s the thought that it could be cracked, and by whom I’m not sure, that bothers me. For instance, your SSI # is usually a part of your medical record, along with your home address and the address of next of kin and person to contact in case of emergency. If that’s not someone in your household you just gave information on someone else to a hacker.

      Now, it’s possible there’s certain information excluded from going online; I don’t know that. But it’s just another thing to think about.

  • This could be a helpful but still have some issue. On top of have scare for information thieve, there is another problem when people move other country that have different language and medical standard. Sometimes medical information that get from one country cannot be use in other country.
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    • That’s an interesting take, Ruri. I mean, Google Health would make sure the information was always online, no matter where you went, but the other things would be different. Hadn’t thought of it in that way.

  • You know, you might want to check out T. R. Reid’s frontline piece http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/
    that talks about healthcare around the world. Many countries have smart cards and electronic health records. Not sure what the preponderance of identity theft is, but it does make you wonder about our healthcare system. I still believe that Mayo Clinic Health Manager, Microsoft’s HealthVault and Google Health offer significant positives.

    • Hi Lori,

      Interesting stuff. This country actually had smart cards back in the late 90’s, but patients wouldn’t bring them back when they came back. As for electronic medical records, we messed that up by making it hard and expensive for both hospitals and physicians to go that route; that, and the millennium, which made a lot of hospitals buy new computer systems instead of putting their money into EMR. Still, it will happen one of these days. I actually wrote a little bit about that, and some other things, here.

  • Hi Mitch, I will check out what you read. It is interesting how we got to this place, historically. I’m also reading quite a few stories about how electronic medical records are helping with the tracking of the H1N1 virus; facilities are seeing trends faster than from other identification protocols.

    • Lori, there’s never been a doubt that the implementation of EMR would be a big benefit. It’s the cost and the mandates on other people’s money that’s been the problem. And because of that, HIPAA hasn’t been enforced, and there’s really nothing anyone can do about it unless a portion of the Obama Administration plan gets passed.

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