Google Health Launches to Questions About Privacy

Google executives pledge privacy as they roll out Google Health for consumers to try.

Google has formally launched its Google Health effort to allow patients access their personal health records no matter where they are, from any computing device, through a secure portal hosted by Google.
In this beta, users who sign up for the program must agree to grant "all or nothing" access to Google Health partner companies, including Walgreens, Quest Diagnostics and The Cleveland Clinic. As of today, users can choose to share their PHRs with these partners importing their records currently stored by health organizations directly into Google Health, which securely stores the data, the company said.
However, the all-or-nothing PHR info buffet could be a major deterrent for users sensitive about which records they provide to which health care providers.
Google Health Product Manager Roni Zeiger, who demonstrated the new service during a Google Search Factory Tour at the company's Mountain View, Calif., campus May 19, promised more granularity for the service in the future.
Zeiger, a medical doctor Google plucked from private practice to preside over this crucial initiative, showed the audience a fictional case of "Diana," who had just come down with sinusitis (an inflammation of the sinuses). Diana, a Google Health member, looked for treatment on Google Health and found that amoxicillin was a drug that could help her.
However, because Google Health had stored her health history, the service noted that she might have a bad reaction to the drug because amoxicillin is an antibiotic of penicillin, which she is allergic to. All this happened without Diana having to pick up the phone and call her physician.
Diana also wanted to see if she was at risk for a heart attack. In the same way she was connected to hospitals and pharmacies with whom she had chosen to share her data, she was connected to the American Heart Association and was able to use that organization's heart attack risk calculator without completely filling out a new form, as her height and weight were already automatically filled in.