Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Google Your Health Records

Ten years ago this week, a new search engine made its debut. Little did anyone know at the time what a phenomenon Google would become in the intervening decade. The phrase "Google it," has become enshrined in our collective lexicon as meaning "search the Internet." Even those who do not use the Internet much or often know its meaning. In short, Google has become enshrined in our culture in much the same way a scant few other brands have. Kleenex, anyone?

Now the power of Google is being brought to bear on Electronic Medical Records. PublicRadio.org's Money Marketplace show takes a solid look at the newest news from the Internet titan, exploring both pros and cons of the new searchable online approach.

Of particular interest is the trust factor. Many people who wish to move to EMRs are worried about data mining, hackers and the other privacy bugaboos that come up whenever you discuss Internet-based programs like this.

WBUR's Martha Bebinger reports:

Still, I wonder, what will Google do with this information? HIPAA, the federal law that controls the release of patient records, does not govern these online medical records programs.

Halamka pulls up the Google Health privacy rules:

Halamka: We will never share your data. We will never data mine. We will never advertise based on your health data. You know, it's not, "Oh, I'm a diabetic; we're having a sale on glucometers at XYZ.com." They've truly built firewalls between the advertising and personal health record.

Carlton Doty: I think they're walking a fine line there.

Carlton Doty, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, says Google or Microsoft or any of their health records competitors are also creating a major advertising venue.

The article covers many other aspects of the system and includes a walk through the setup and a really useful analysis of the overall features of the new Google offering. Check out the transcript or listen to the original program here.

SOURCE: "Google's next search: Medical records" 09/06/08
photo courtesy of extraketchup, used under its Creative Commons license

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