Google Health

i-896663d6bea2b9eb880441b8c62dc3cb-Google Logo.jpgGoogle Health, the latest service from Google, was recently launched as a beta version. Online personal health services have been around for a while (including Revolution Health and Microsoft's HealthVault) but here's what Google says is different about theirs:

1.Portability:Through Google Health, you will be able to have access and control over your health data from anywhere. People who travel will be able to move health data between their various health providers seamlessly and with total control.

2.Ease of use: Clean, easy-to-use user experience that makes managing your health information straightforward and easy.

3.Partnerships: Due to the integration of third-party services you'll be able to automatically import information such as your doctors' records, your prescription history, and your test results into Google Health in order to easily access and control your data. In the future you will be able to do things like schedule appointments and refill prescriptions.

4.Security: Google Health will protect the privacy of your health information by giving you complete control over your data.

I was particularly curious about the security issue. Google Health is not regulated by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)-the national policy on health information privacy-because Google does not provide health care services.

In an Associated Press article, Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, said that by transferring records to an external service, patients could unwittingly make it easier for the government, a legal adversary or a marketing concern to obtain private information.

Google has provided a chart describing how their data confidentiality practices compare to those mandated by HIPAA. I am no expert on health information security but based on this chart, Google's policies appear fairly similar to HIPAA's.

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That sounds simultaneously awesome and creepy. I'm looking around the Google Health pages right now and I almost can't believe it's real. (I hadn't heard of the other services you mention.) I know there are some hazy provisions in Gmail and in Google Video that allow Google to have ownership of your files, though it's unclear how or if they actually intend to exercise that ownership ever. From the privacy policy it looks like they're very clearly not doing anything ambiguously shady like that here.

Karen Ventii,
I am working on behalf of Biomed Experts, www.biomedexperts, to compile a list of science focused blogs and bloggers to send them information about the online community linking biomedical researchers together across the world. If you wouldn't mind sending me your contact information so I could add it to our list that would be most appreciative. Thanks!
Kim J.

I really think this is a great idea.
I'm not into the details of privacy terms very much, but surelly it would be a very interesting tool to have when patients arrive to the ER and have dificulties speaking, can't remember medications or high yield data.
We would use at my hospital a very similar system for our "organ recipient patients", cause they can't afford to spend half an hour to one hour trying to figure out history of present illnes, past medical history and prescriptions. hotmail, gmail and yahoo already have access to most of the people in the world private information by their email accounts anyway.

By Hernan Pollacchi, MD (not verified) on 12 Jun 2008 #permalink

this is bondjames
I think this site is providing information about medical records. I think this site is to be useful to whom wants to know about medicals they require to see this.

By bondjames (not verified) on 08 Mar 2009 #permalink