Posted February 28, 2008 3:42 pm by with 16 comments

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Google has redesigned and announced several new projects over the last day or two. In addition to the premiere of Google Sites and a redesign of Google Docs, they’ve also formally announced Google Health.

The Google Blog is officially announcing Google Health. Naturally, the very first bullet point in their list of Google Health advantages (over other online personal health record services) is:

Privacy and Security – Due to the sensitive and personal nature of the data that will be stored in Google Health, we need to conduct our health service with the same privacy, security, and integrity users have come to expect in all our services. Google Health will protect the privacy of your health information by giving you complete control over your data. We won’t sell or share your data without your explicit permission. Our privacy policy and practices have been developed in thoughtful collaboration with experts from the Google Health Advisory Council.

Privacy concerns have run rampant since Eric Schmidt mentioned it publicly last week. At the time, CNN reminded us that Google Health isn’t “covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” (HIPAA) and that it may make “it easier for the government or some other legal adversary to obtain the information.”

Privacy concerns aside, honestly, is this the “urgent need” that Google claims it is? How many of us could decipher our medical records, let alone manage and correct them? Google lists portability, user focus and their “platform strategy” as the features which sets the service apart. For me, at least, that’s not compelling enough to make me want to sign up. How about you?

  • Great idea to have records in one central location, viewable by doctors and us, but privacy is HUGE concern needless to say.

  • I will be using this for sure. Especially since I don’t have healthcare. Lol.

  • This is another one of Google’s great ideas. I’m excited.

  • Amanda

    Yes, this is the “ugent need” they say it is. I will use it, and I hope it takes off with the general public, because:

    1) In the US, primary care physicians manage an average of 900 patients each. If they do nothing but treat patients, you get 1 day of their attention every 3 years. Doctors are humans and act like it: they make mistakes, practice with bias towards their experience, and can’t possibly keep up with the latest research in so many fields of medicine. What a great platform Google Health will be for individuals to be proactive about their health.

    2) Think about the data mining possibilities. A centralized health record database will provide a platform to analyze real world health data on a macro scale, and report lots of interesting and perhaps crazy results.

  • It should prove to be an extremely useful resource but I can’t help being slightly worried out the privacy issue.

    Having said that, over here in the UK our Government is going through a torrid time of losing key data (well, you do when you put CD-Roms full of the stuff in the public postal system!).

    As long as data is safe, then good on Google.

  • Google generates great Ideas. I will be using this service!

  • I really don’t feel the need for this personally. I’d adopt a wait and watch approach to see how this turns out.

  • Now, if we can just lower health care costs, we’d be so much better off. It’s running absolutely rampid lately.

  • Jordan McCollum

    @Amanda—I haven’t needed an entire day of a doctor’s time total in my life, but maybe that’s just me. I certainly don’t have time or expertise to diagnose myself or keep up with medical research either. I know I’m not alone when I say that I certainly don’t want anyone mining my medical data. I believe that’s been the biggest concern over the whole thing.

  • I think Jordan is correct – they’ve missed the boat. Most people can give there medical history in 10 seconds and it isn’t critical to the diagnosis anyway. They could have helped a lot with organizing health care but i don’t think this is going to be it. [link removed]

  • Healthcare is difficult enough to understand. Maybe Google should work on hashing out the intricacies, and cutting costs. Lord Knows this country is in need of healthcare reform.

  • Did not one of the hospitals in UK lose their datacentre to fire? They had to rely on nurses logbooks to recover all the patient information.

  • @SEO Guy

    In the UK we’re having one data security or data loss scare after another. I’m not sure if the story you recount is correct, but that’s through my ignorance of the matter most likely. The biggest breaches do find their way to the press, but for each one that goes public I don’t doubt that there are several that are successfully kept under wraps.

    I am engaged to someone in the health profession and upon presenting the concept of Google Health to her she was rather unimpressed. You see, in many doctors’ eyes, the Internet has been a thorn in their side – people type in some symptoms and are presented with many exotic sounding potential diagnoses. Dull headache? Probably a brain tumour. Sore knee? Blood clot. Loss of appetite? Stomach cancer. And so forth. I really can’t see a use for GHealth – durg interactions and the like surely shouldn’t be considered concerns for the layperson. That’s what you pay your doctors for. (Directly, if you’re in the US, or via taxes if like me you’re in the UK)

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  • I really love this new idea of Google. Surely, many will avail for this new service. Nice Google!

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  • Wow, it was only a matter of time before Google did this… I can’t believe I am only reading about it now.

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