Google Healthcare

Google Health Beta

For some time now there have been reports of Google creating an online health database that stored and tracked all of a person’s health records in addition to health care news and other content including drug interaction information and health tips. This is clearly a whole level above other online health portals such as WebMD that have typically offered but is similar to what Microsoft is attempting with their HealthVault portal (although WebMD now offers something similar).

According to recently released screenshots over at search engine land there appears to be an “Import medical records” feature which could allow Google’s system to act as a central repository for all of a person’s health care. It even appears to go so far as linking Google Health with other online personal health services such as Beth Israel’s Deaconess Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic’s MyChart, Longs Drug Stores and Medco.

Apparently Google claims that health records stored on their system are kept more secure than their own search logs and that users can delete their complete profiles at any time. Personally, I wouldn’t have a hesitation about making this my central health care dashboard as opposed to having to use three different websites to manage medical, dental and vision. I do, however, agree with Greg Sterling when he states that

“The potential issues with Google Health aren’t really about Google Health itself, they’re about the larger healthcare system in the US, which makes profitability the paramount consideration and quality patient care a distant second.”

It’s a valid fear that the information stored on Google’s system could be used against someone by their health insurance company to deny coverage under their beloved “pre-existing condition” clauses. On the positive side, maybe people will need their profiles optimized for search engines.

What do you think? Is this the future of medical record keeping or too much of a potential liability, impeding mass adoption? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Update: Google Health Beta is live and ready to collect your info.

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