Thursday, March 05, 2009

Google Health: helping you better coordinate your health care

[Reader Advisory: Privacy obsessed individuals need not go on.This concept may not be good for your health.]

For most of us, this is an exciting development. This new Google application may be the most important contribution to health care of our lifetime. Check out the February 28.Google Blog post:

...Last week we announced our partnership and pilot with the Cleveland Clinic. This week, the team has been at the HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) conference in Orlando, Florida, where Eric Schmidt gave the closing keynote. Eric's keynote marks the first time we've talked publicly about the product we've been designing and building. His talk also offered a deeper view into our overall health strategy. (Watch the video.)

Google Health aims to solve an urgent need that dovetails with our overall mission of organizing patient information and making it accessible and useful. Through our health offering, our users will be empowered to collect, store, and manage their own medical records online.

For the healthcare industry, online personal health records (PHRs) aren't a new idea and, in some cases, online PHRs already exist for patients. Here's what we think sets Google Health apart:

* 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.

* Platform - One of the most exciting and innovative parts of Google Health is our platform strategy. We're assembling a directory of third-party services that interoperate with Google Health. Right now, this means you'll be able to automatically import information such as your doctors' records, your prescription history, and your test results into Google Health in order to easily access and control your data. Later, this platform strategy will mean that you will be able to interact with services and tools easily, and will be able to do things like schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and start using new wellness tools.

* Portability - Our Internet presence ultimately means that through Google Health, you will be able to have access and control over your health data from anywhere. Through the Cleveland Clinic pilot, we have already found great use-cases in which, for example, people spend 6 months of the year in Ohio, and 6 months of the year in Florida or Arizona, and will now be able to move their health data between their various health providers seamlessly and with total control. Previously, this would have required carrying paper records back and forth. With Google Health, the user can simply import the data from each medical facility and then choose to share it with the other facilities. It's advances in data portability like this that we think can really make a difference in the quality of healthcare. The clearer and more comprehensive the information regarding your health becomes, the better your care will be.

* User focus - We aren't doctors or healthcare experts, but one thing Google can create is a clean, easy-to-use user experience that makes managing your health information straightforward and easy.

See the video (nearly an hour) . Eric Schmidt gives the keynote speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Annual Conference in Orlando, on February 28, 2008.

Check out today's post.

We're listening to feedback from users every day about their needs, and one issue we hear regularly is that people want help coordinating their care and the care of loved ones. They want the ability to share their medical records and personal health information with trusted family members, friends, and doctors in their care network. I can relate to this.

Just a few years ago, my father suffered a minor heart attack and was sent to the ER. I arrived on the scene in a panic, and was asked what medications he was taking. To my surprise, I had no clue. If my father had a Google Health account, and had shared his profile with me, I would have been up-to-date on his current medications.

I'm happy to announce today Google Health has addressed this issue with the release of a new "Share this profile" feature enabling Google Health users to invite others they trust (whether it's a family member, a trusted care network provider, friends, and/or a doctor) to view their medical records and personal health information.

Log into Google Health, click on "Share this Profile," and type in the email address of the person with whom you'd like to share your profile. Google Health will send an email to them with a link to view your profile. The link will only work in connection with the email address of that person — your profile can't be accessed if the link is forwarded on. You can stop sharing at any time, and you can always see who has access to your information. Those who are viewing your profile can only see the profile you share — not any other one in your account. We've also built in some extra protections to make sure your health information stays safe, private, and under your control:

* The link to view your profile expires after 30 days
* Viewers can only see — not edit — your Google Health profile
* You can review a user activity report to see who has viewed your profile

For doctors and family members who are not yet online, we've also made it easier to share a hard copy of your information via our new printing feature. The wallet format prints a wallet-sized card that includes a user's medications, and allergies; the PDF format prints a letter-sized copy of a user's profile, including medications, allergies, conditions, and treatments.

Finally, we've launched a new graphing feature that helps patients visualize their medical test information. This is great for, say, someone who has high cholesterol. They can use Google Health to enter their lab results on a monthly basis and see the trend over time.

Addendum, April 7:

David Harlow puts a feather in the cap for Google Health.

The privacy nuts and technophobes out there won't sign up for this service, despite the (mostly) good privacy track record of the financial industry; at the other end of the spectrum, the early adopters are already all over this. My expectation is that general adoption is going to depend more on easy porting of medical records beyond prescription histories.

His post is in response to the announcement that CVS is now interfacing with Google Health.
More at the link.

1 comment:

Deron Schriver said...

A portion of every physician visit involves taking the patient's history. If the patient sees three physicians in one week, that's three histories taken and three histories paid for by the insurance company, Medicare, the patient, or whomever the payer might be. EHRs will be a great step in the right direction because it would eliminate this significant duplication of effort. It would also avoid the problem of details being left out by the patient.

We have to get over this obsession with privacy in healthcare. It's costing us too much money!