Dr. Google

We’ve written before about online healthcare resources. Google is now entering the arena in a big way with a service that will store medical records and allow patients to access them from anywhere, according to Reuters. Called Google Health, the site is still in development, though initial screenshots are available, and currently goes by the codename “Weaver” — and is not to be confused with Microsoft’s already-online HealthVault. Let the privacy debate begin!


Google Health on a mobile might actually be a great idea if Google can make it authoratative. Google health, GPS, and Google Maps combination could actually save lives.

I don't think Google would be selling Ads on these pages. However, I wonder if the searches would be used to target Ads on other Google properties. Ads appearing on pages you browse can betray the searches you make on other private pages if the information is harvested.



Why call it a privacy issue?

Your banking is a more hacker desirable target than your health information.

I think people might be more worried about discovery of their purchases than their health information.

We trust our banking to be private and online. We should trust our health information the same way. After all, would a hacker be more willing to dig up our health information and try to sell it somewhere -- or would they prefer walking away with our bank account?


I have noticed that if I search on an item in Google, it will be a matter of hours that I begin receiving spam directed towards the subject I searched for. I can't imagine the repercussions if my medical records became known to unscrupulous advertisers. I'm more than a little leery of the Google effort. I don't believe it will be secure.
Even if my name isn't included, somehow advertisers will know who to send the spam to.

Eno Carrier

I mistrust Google since their RSS reader debacle. They started publishing all the information you shared with your friends with all your e-mail contacts.

3 months later and a big scandal around the world, and they still have not removed the unwanted feature.



Both Microsoft and Google have much-heralded plans to corner the market on personal health records, but let's take a step back for a second. Consumer Driven Market Report predicts that both Microsoft and Google will fail in this endeavour within one year, because "there is no interconnectivity with banks and insurers to populate the PHR with meaningful data." The report's recommendation is to look for banking solutions firms to outpace Microsoft/Google in the PHR space.

James Barlow

From a UK perspective, this sounds really interesting. Although I imagine this product is aimed at the US model of health care, the British NHS is currently spending ?20 billion quid on upgrading their IT systems, of which a reasonable chunk is creating a Electronic Records Management system.

I'd trust Google over the government any day of the week.


Wait a minute, I am allowed to access and keep my financial record, my driving record, my credit record, my frequent flier miles record, my subway-subs record, but I cannot access and keep my medical records? It makes absolutely no sense that I do not have total uninhibited access to arguably the most important record of them all - my health record.
Not to mention the pain which accompanies attempting to transfer records from one doctor to another. I recently went to get my immunizations for a trip, and found out that there are two travel clinics in my hospital. Not a big deal until I found out that they refuse to share records, so if you go to one, nurses and doctors from the other cannot access your immunization history. All I can say in response is wow.

Mauricio Pastrana

I used to work for an EMR company (Electronic Medical Records). Its amazing how hard it is to digitize and organize this field of information (and thus, the amount of records kept by doctors). There is simply no standard for anything.

If Google already has all of our demographics (orkut), email (gmail), documents (docs), detailed personal website information (webmasters, analytics), purchasing patterns (checkout and froogle), overall behavior (trends, charts) and not have done anything tremendously damaging with, what?s the difference with Medical Records?

I welcome the google initiative so long as it works more like maps (an API to which all software vendors and end users can plug in alike) and not as a standalone take-all be-all of medical records. It will be a while until any Medical records tool sorts out the legal and logistics mess that this field entails. Up next: legal records






Unfortunately, that's probably more through necessity than policy. USA would truly be pioneers if they took Greek health care as their model. But at least they would have modest aims.


As long as there are privacy policies there are no privacy rights. THey disclaim it all away.

michael webster

As I understand it, in Greece is it is the patient and not the doctor's which are responsible for keeping medical records.

Not a bad idea, when you think about it.

Dr Bonis

I am a medical doctor. I see patients every day. Including the Emergency Room where I work.

Because of that, I deeply understand, not only theoretically but as part of my daily experience that patient-physician relationship is the key for the quality of health-care.

A patient must trust his doctor. If there is no confidence, we lost a lot (patients and docs).

Saying that, privacy of data becomes a real importante issue. A patient that talks about his sexual activities, extramatrimonial affairs, fears, weakness, mental health... should be sure that the doctor will not reveal that information to third parties.

During thousands years physician have follow this hippocrates oath sencente: What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

So at the moment I designed the keyose (www.keyose.com) service, I have a very clear idea: privacy must be the priority number one!

Storing thousands of personal health records electronically has a big risk. What if someone unauthorized (a cracker for instance) access to the database? No matter how much money or effort you invest in the security of a system. There is no 100% secure system in the world. And the health information of thousand of people is very attractive to so many people (government, insurers, bank, private companies, criminals devoted to extortion...).

There are many companies entering the business of eHealth. Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault are just the two most known examples. As a medical doctor I am really concerned about the privacy of data. 90% of UK physicians and German doctors think like me.

Keyose was designed in such a way that no personal information is stored. We do not need your name, email or identity. And more importantly: We do not want it.

I would never put my personal, my patients or my relatives health information in a online database that contains the identity of the patients. You can trust me!

Dr. Julio Bonis


David R.

My medical records are scattered along three states and basically accessible to no one. Why should I be worrying about breaches to HIPAA?


My friend was telling me about his project to allow users to store their documents anywhere and edit them from anywhere. I said "Isn't that like Google Docs?". No, he said, with Google Docs, you have to store it on their servers. Although I think Google can be trusted with data, there is still an element of wanting to retain control by housing data themselves.

Blues Recruiter

You should know that the VP at Google driving Google Health left the company at the end of 2007. Adam Bosworth is currently developing a new Health search business in San Francisco.


I agree w/ post 13. March 6th, by JPW. Many were timid about online banking just a dozen years prior, I venture that 80% of all 20-40 year olds do 100% of banking ONLINE w/o even using a Paper Checkbook.

As for Mobile PHR on phones, check on WorldMedCard product they over @ www.VRSurgeon.com have already deployed the working model.