Schmidt Gives Google Health a Booster Shot

Google CEO Eric Schmidt unveils Google Health at a conference. The service appears destined to compete with services from Microsoft and Revolution Health. 

Google provided the first official peek at Google Health, an effort to let patients collect, store and manage their own medical records online, accessing them through Google APIs.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt introduced the service in a keynote to close the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 28.

Marissa Mayer, vice president of search and user products at Google, blogged about Google Health and provided screenshots of the application.

Google Health is the company's strategy to help patients access their personal health records no matter where they are, from any computing device, through a secure portal hosted by Google. Microsoft and Revolution Health have created similar services.

Mayer, picked to run Google Health after engineer Adam Bosworth left the company to start his own health startup, Keas, last September, said Google's position as a Web platform provider will let users access and control their health data from anywhere.

She noted that through the Cleveland Clinic pilot, which was unveiled last week, people who spend 6 months of the year in Ohio, and 6 months of the year in Florida or Arizona, can easily move their health data between their various health providers.

"Previously, this would have required carrying paper records back and forth," Mayer wrote. "With Google Health, the user can simply import the data from each medical facility and then choose to share it with the other facilities."

To flesh out the service quality, Mayer said Google is busy assembling a directory of third-party services that interoperate with Google Health.

This will enable patients to import doctors' records, prescription history and test results into Google Health. These partnerships will ultimately let users schedule appointments and refill prescriptions.

Mayer also made a point to convey that privacy and security will be of the utmost importance to patients, noting that "we won't sell or share your data without your explicit permission."

Mayer cautioned that Google is in the initial stages of its "launch early and iterate" strategy, noting that the Mountain View, Calif., company will make the service publicly available this year.