Google Launched Google Health to Store and Manage Medical History
After a year and half of development, Google began offering online personal health records to the public on Monday.
The Internet search giant’s service, Google Health, at www.google.com/health, is the latest entrant in the growing field of companies offering personal health records on the Web. Their ranks range from longtime online health services like WebMD to the software powerhouse Microsoft to start-ups like Revolution Health.
The companies all hope to capitalize eventually on the trend of increasingly seeking health information online, and the potential of Internet tools to help consumers manage their own health care and medical spending.
Google enters the field of personal health records with a leading online brand, deep pockets and a wealth of technical skills. In a two-month trial this year, the Cleveland Clinic found that its patients were eager to use the Google health records.
The pilot project, limited to 1,600 patients, was quickly oversubscribed, said C. Martin Harris, the Cleveland Clinic’s chief information officer. Dr. Harris also said that when the clinic’s online health records, introduced in 2004, were linked to the Google record the clinic’s records were used more frequently by patients. “It positioned our personal health record more into an activity that they use every day,” Dr. Harris said.
The Google record, he said, allows the user to send personal information, at the individual’s discretion, into the clinic record or to pull information from the clinic records into the Google personal file.
The ability of patients to send information, in particular, can be helpful to clinic doctors, Dr. Harris said. For example, if a person sees specialists outside the clinic and receives a drug prescription from an outside doctor, it raises the risk of harmful drug interactions. “Until now, if a patient doesn’t remember to tell me,” he said, “I don’t know about drugs prescribed outside the Cleveland Clinic system.”
In the Cleveland trial, patients apparently did not shun the Google health records because of qualms that their personal health information might not be secure if held by a large technology company.
In Google Health, as in the pilot project, the company is not selling advertisements. And what information is shared with doctors, clinics or pharmacies is controlled by the individual, said Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products.
More than two dozen companies and institutions announced that they are partners with Google Health, including Walgreens, CVS, the American Heart Association, Quest Diagnostics, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic. The partnerships are not exclusive arrangements.
Cleveland Clinic, for example, is also talking to Microsoft. “As these online services become available, we expect to connect to them all,” Dr. Harris said.
Google Health, Ms. Mayer said, represents a “large ongoing initiative” by the company, which she said she hoped would eventually include “thousands of partners and millions of users.”
How it will work for you?
With Google Health, you can store and manage all your health information in one place. And it's completely free. All you need to get started is a Google username and password. Your health information belongs to you, and you should decide how much you share and whom you share it with. We will never sell your data. We store your information securely and privately.
You can create and save a Google Health profile using your free Google Account. You can enter as little or as much information as you want—for example, conditions, medications allergies, symptoms, causes, and treatments. You can even create additional profiles for your kids, your parents, or anyone you care about.
Google health have partnered with hospitals, labs, and pharmacies to allow you to import your records and prescription history from healthcare providers that treat you.
Google Health can help you track your medical history. Use your profile to view a summary of your medical history, or drill down to see the details close up. Having all your health information organized and centrally located will help keep your doctors up-to-date when you visit them.
Every time you add new health data to your profile, Google Health will check for potential interactions between your drugs, allergies, and conditions. Review these helpful tips to see if there are any issues you should talk to your doctor about.
To refill prescriptions online, ask for a second opinion, or get personalized health information based on your profile. You can link to these services in the same way you link to other partners to import your medical records. Google has no financial relationship with any of these companies. You decide whether to connect with a service and share your health information with it.
Also you can search for existing or new doctors by specialty or location. You can access your information anywhere, anytime by signing in to your Google Health Account.