At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference on Thursday, Google CEO Eric Schmidt detailed a new online personal health record service, called Google Health, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Reed, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 2/28).
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Web site, which will compete with similar sites operated by Microsoft and Revolution Health Group, "could boost the nation's fledgling efforts to adopt electronic medical records" (Lawton/Worthen, Wall Street Journal, 2/28).
The system will store patients' health records online and allow users to import records from different health provider systems. Google Health also will let users search for doctors and find health care information from Google Scholar, discussion groups and other sources (Mills, CNET News' "News Blog," 2/28). In addition, third-party developers will develop direct-to-consumer services, such as medication tables or immunization reminders (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 2/28).
Some health care professionals have raised concerns about the use of PHRs to sell advertisements and the possibility that the federal medical privacy rule issued after the enactment of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act does not cover records stored online (Wall Street Journal, 2/28).
Schmidt said that Google would not share any information with outside entities without the patient's consent. "Our model is that the owner of the data has control over who can see it," he said, adding, "And trust for Google is the most important currency on the Internet."
Schmidt also noted that the company will not use advertising to support Google Health and that it is relying on increased Web traffic to make the site profitable. Schmidt compared the new service to Google News, which is not ad-supported.
Google is currently testing the PHR service with 1,370 volunteers at the Cleveland Clinic. Schmidt did not specify when the service would be available to the public but said the company was working to release it soon (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 2/28).
Google said that future partners on the project would include hospitals, pharmacies, insurers and other health care stakeholders, including:
- American Heart Association;
- American Medical Association;
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CNET News' "News Blog," 2/28);
- Duane Reade (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 2/28);
- Long's Drugs;
- Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University;
- Quest Diagnostics;
- University of California-San Francisco;
- Walgreen; and
- Wal-Mart Stores (CNET News' "News Blog," 2/28).
Schmidt did not disclose what each company might contribute (AP/San Jose Mercury News