In case you have not heard, Google Health launched on Monday.
Lots of coverage. My apologies if it gets overwhelming. Here are some interesting excerpts:
Extensive review from TechCrunch:
The big competition here is between Google Health and Microsoft’s HealthVault. (Revolution Health is more of an information portal at this point, and who is going to trust their health insurance company?). Whereas HealthVault’s strengths seem to lie in tying together different health information silos on the back end, Google Health is focusing more initially on the consumer side. It is trying to do an end-run around the health establishment by trying to get consumers to manually load their own medical information into their profiles. HealthVault allows this as well, but seems to have stronger partnerships with back-end health data providers. Google will no doubt tackle the existing health data silos as it proceeds. It really has no choice if it wants to organize the world’s health information.
On a tour, Google explains that, yes, this is another “personal health record,” a way for patients to store and manage their medical information in one place. But Google seems to be trying to address one of the big problems with PHRs: maintaining them is a big pain.
What’s a little disappointing is that the racial profile questions are a little naive. South-Asian/Indian? Sorry! Middle Eastern origin? Sorry!While they seem to be taken from dated census question, Google have failed to be open enough to take into account the 63 racial profiles that the Census bureau acknowledges nor the growing mixed race population. There isn’t even an ‘Other’ box. And therefore if you don’t fit Google’s racial criteria, you can’t fully use the site.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “It remains to be seen how willing consumers will be to store sensitive personal medical information online” (Wall Street Journal, 5/20).
Patient advocates and privacy experts have “expressed concern that, despite password protection, sensitive health records stored online could be compromised,” the Globe reports (Boston Globe, 5/20). Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, said that the federal medical privacy rule issued after the enactment of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act does not cover medical records placed on a third-party online service (Metz, AP/Chicago Tribune, 5/19).
Roni Zeiger, product manager at Google, said that the company will share information in PHRs only at the request of users (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/20). Marissa Mayer, vice president of search and user products at Google, said that Google Health will have the “highest level of security” (AP/Chicago Tribune, 5/19).
Hospitals who are savvy in the ways of 2.0 will have their physicians appear higher in search results. Yup, this is yet another way to search for physicians, but honestly, I doubt people will use this tool to make physician decisions. More so, they’ll go onto HealthGrades or other Physician rating sites. The “Find a Doctor” option on Google is more so that we can automatically add our physician’s info into our profile quickly.
Google promises never to advertise on Google Health. So how will they make money? Likely, there will be a Google search bar in the Google Health portal and Google can collect ad revenue from related Google.com searches.
At BIDMC, we have enhanced our hospital and ambulatory systems such that a patient, with their consent and control, can upload their BIDMC records to Google Health in a few keystrokes. There is no need to manually enter this health data into Google’s personal health record, unlike earlier PHRs from Dr. Koop, HealthCentral and Revolution Health. Once these records are uploaded, patients receive drug/drug interaction advice, drug monographs, and disease reference materials. They can subscribe to additional third party applications, share their records if desired, and receive additional health knowledge services.
Lowlights include the fact that it only allows importing data from 8 different personal health record services (none of which are software-based records which you may have from a Windows program or what-not), and no exporting of your data whatsoever. So much for being “open.” Also, apparently Google is licensing health information from ADAM and incorporating it into the record when you want a quick reference, taking Google down the road of yet again competing against publishers and playing favorites in this space. The user-interface is… clunky, to put it gently. You have to add a medication, test or procedure, and then click on it separately to add its details. It looks like the interface was designed by programmers, not people who actually deal with health conditions on a day-in, day-out basis.