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article imageGoogle Health set to launch today

By Chris V. Thangham     Feb 21, 2008 in Health
Google wanted to launch Google Health in cooperation with hospitals, patients, pharmacies for some time, and now it will launch a pilot program with Cleveland Clinic Hospital.
Associated Press made the announcement that Google Health will be launched today with Cleveland Clinic Hospital and will involve about 1,500 to 10,000 patients.
The patients have volunteered to transfer their records electronically for access through either their email or Google accounts.
The online health profile of the patient will contain the information regarding their prescriptions, allergies and medical histories and will be password protected by the patient. The patient will then share the information with the different parties, such as doctors, pharmacists or health insurance companies.
There are privacy concerns but as long it is safeguarded and sent in a secure manner between the patient and the doctor, then it should be fine. Records are already stored in paper form, where any one could pry into, but if they are locked up in a secure environment it will be beneficial for everyone involved.
The Cleveland Clinic already has its own online service called MyChart and so do many other hospitals. But if it is done across the country with a single service like Google Health, it will help both the doctors and the patients. The MyChart has more than 120,000 patients.
Those patients who are volunteering will now be able to get their health data anywhere quickly using their Google accounts.
Mayer said in a statement supplied by the Cleveland Clinic.
We believe patients should be able to easily access and manage their own health information.
The Cleveland Clinic decided to work with Google to create a more efficient and effective national health care system, according to C. Martin Harris, the medical center's chief information officer.
Also, Google’s archrival Microsoft has a similar service HealthVault it started late last year and AOL co-founder Steve Case has introduced Revolution Health. Both tools provide and share personal health histories.
Pam Dixon, director of the World Privacy Forum, is worried about the privacy. She said the third-party services like Google are not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPPA. The act was passed in 1997 and establishes strict standards that classify medical information as a privileged communication between a doctor and a patient.
If Google Health complies with this strict HIPPA standard, then the privacy concerns can be solved and people won’t be forced by the government to reveal the records.
Google has not said how it will be monetizing this service. But with their huge servers across the nation, they can easily do it free like the Gmail service.
This is a good move by Google, in my opinion. They will of course follow the security medical standards, or HIPPA. This way the doctor can communicate with the pharmacy and get the right drugs instead of some scribbled notes and making plenty of mistakes.
It is also good for us to have medical records so we can share our health history with doctors and get prescribed the right treatment. Currently, if they ask us our records, we can only give them a general answer -- so why not have it online in a secure environment?
Is Google Health a useful or bad project?
More about Google health, Launch, Cincinnati
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