Posted February 21, 2008 4:55 am by with 7 comments

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Following-up a story we first discussed in October, Google has announced the first patients to start testing Google Health.

The pilot project to be announced Thursday will involve 1,500 to 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic who volunteered to an electronic transfer of their personal health records so they can be retrieved through Google’s new service, which won’t be open to the general public.

Each health profile, including information about prescriptions, allergies and medical histories, will be protected by a password that’s also required to use other Google services such as e-mail and personalized search tools.

And with the announcement, we have all kinds of scary stories about lack of privacy and security that comes with Google taking hold of your health records.

Here’s just a selection of the concerns CNN reports:

“…the health venture also will provide more fodder for privacy watchdogs who believe Google already knows too much about the interests and habits of its users as its computers log their search requests and store their e-mail discussions.”

“…[Google Health isn’t] covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA…”

“…[Google Health makes] it easier for the government or some other legal adversary to obtain the information…”

Normally Marketing Pilgrim would be the first to point out the downsides to any online service like this. But, here’s the thing that doomsday predictors seem to forget. This is an opt-in service. If you don’t want Google to have access to your medical records, don’t give it to them!

  • Dean

    Who in their right mind would give Google access to their medical records?? I am not a Dr., but I can accurately diagnose that anyone who does this voluntarily has a severe case of ‘stupid’

    While we are at it…ya know those supermarket preferred shopper cards? You do know that the supermarkets sell those lists to 3rd parties right? So everytime you buy bacon, whole milk, cigarettes, and butter, you may as well tell Blue Cross / Blue Shield to raise your coverage rates based on an unhealthy lifestyle. Just food for thought.

  • I’m pleased to see somebody not getting wrapped up in the anti-Google extravaganza that always follows these announcements.

    If this were a mandatory government project to centralise all your personal information in one database then the outcry would be fully justified. In this case, though, it is a private company providing an entirely voluntary service. It is when non-submission to a database becomes a crime against the state, and not just a company, that we should object.

  • Seems like an awkward thing to sign up for but I’ve heard of a lot worse.If you’re someone that doesn’t want medical information to get out then just don’t sign up.

    I wonder how long it’s going to take them to start advertising to people based on some algo that analyzes their Internet life – say goodbye to content match and hello to – I know it’s time for your eye exam…how’s EyeExamsForCheap dot com?

  • Daniel

    > This is an opt-in service. If you don’t want Google to have access to your medical records, **don’t give it to them!**

    I know I’m swimming against the tide given the audience of this site, but these last 5 words here are definitely the best advice in the article.

    Independent of its opt-in nature, this will take on a life of their own. “Oops… the specialty hospital I need to go to won’t admit me unless my health info is in Google”.

    Schmidt’s recent comments about each person controlling who can see their health records are smoke and mirrors. Sure, Google won’t make your records public… but they will no doubt scan them and effectively sell that info via adwords. Then, just wait for the Double Click aquisition: the direct marketing folks here know exactly how personal their profiles can get.

    Google’s a fantastic company and arguably the best in the biz, but like every for-profit company its ultimate goal will always be to provide maximum returns to their stockholder. Google’s “do no evil” motto lasts right up to the point where it might cost them a foothold or serious revenue…



  • Bryan

    As long as the medical records are secured–I think it will save everyone a whole lot of time for retrieving medical records.

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