Feeling Sick? Time To Visit Doctor Google

By Mark O’Neill

Google have announced their latest project – Google Health – which is a service where you can have your entire medical history uploaded into your Google account. But before you start hyper-ventilating, Google has promised that everything in your medical records will be password-protected and therefore will not be publicly indexed in Google Search (I certainly hope not!).

The whole theory behind Google Health is that wherever you go in the world, your medical history will follow you. I mean, how many times have you relocated to another part of the country or another country altogether and your medical records have been lost? Mine have been more times than I care to remember, so Google Health wants to help people like me keep their records in the one place, fully organized and fully digitized. Never again will they go missing.

A fine ideal indeed but rife with potential start-up problems. For a start, Google has to get people to trust them with sensitive medical records. If you have an awkward / embarrassing medical condition, would you reveal it to Google and hope that they keep it to themselves? Many people may prefer just to keep the records with their doctors and rely on the good old fashioned doctor / patient confidentiality. You may decide that you don’t want to reveal your itchy you-know-what to your favorite search engine on the off-chance that it might one day get indexed after all.

Or what if the Health part of Google is hacked into and the records compromised? So Google has to really convince people that they have built an extremely secure site that cannot be breached by hackers and that all the records contained in the site are safe with them.

If Google does manage to convince people or if you decide you just want to give Google the benefit of the doubt, then just click here and log in with your Google account to begin. I decided to risk it in the interests of experimentation!

Upon successfully logging in, you’ll see this screen :

I have epilepsy and depression (what the hell, I don’t mind revealing it) and so my medical history is quite extensive. Not only do I have to tell Google Health about those conditions, I also need to tell them about the medications I am taking. But I can start by clicking on those links on the left and adding my age, sex, height, weight, allergies…..all the easy stuff. When you start entering conditions, Google will offer you multiple choices for other conditions that have similar names, so make sure you choose the right ones!

I haven’t fully explored all the options yet but it looks as if you can scan and upload all your medical notes from doctors, if you can get a hold of copies.

Would I use Google Health? I probably would actually. I am in the slow process of moving a lot of my life online and I like the idea of my medical history following me around wherever I go. If I happen to be on holiday in another country and I am in an accident, a doctor there can go into my Google account and access my medical records right away to give me the treatment I need.

What about you? Would you use a service like this? Or do you not trust Google to keep your information safe?





10 Responses to Feeling Sick? Time To Visit Doctor Google

  1. I tried to get my data onto Google Health, but my docs and service providers aren't on-line yet. Personal health records are boring — unless you really need them, or you can use them for other things. As #1 says above, there are too many opportunities for bigs, and Health data is a lot more important than credit card data. It could be very bad:
    http://www.in3.org/articles/gh2018worst.htm

    But just imagine, if it worked, it could be great:
    http://www.in3.org/articles/gh2018best.htm

  2. The idea and concept is good but I can't see myself putting that kind of sensitive information online until I could be absolutely certain that my privacy would be secure. In these beginning stages, I feel like there way too many chances for bugs.

  3. The idea and concept is good but I can’t see myself putting that kind of sensitive information online until I could be absolutely certain that my privacy would be secure. In these beginning stages, I feel like there way too many chances for bugs.

  4. I was interested in trying it out, and aren't too bothered about the security implications, (I work in the area of electronic health records and realise that there are a LOT of medical records floating around in electronic form basically unsecured anyway).

    To me there's another big problem. Getting information into the system. You need some sort of 'import' button, that can either load in some standard file format (there are already a few options for health information file formats, but most of them aren't really directly accessible to the patient). Otherwise it seems like the initiative is on the patients to collect printouts and type in the info themselves, where the tendency for (both accidental and deliberate) error is fairly high.

    I realise there is already an insignificant handful of health care providers listed that you can import from, but thats silly. You need a place where you can directly enter in some standard (like HL7) server name and patient id or something, and then everything just loads in.

    On the other side, I can't see doctors trusting the information stored within when its so easily modified by the patient themselves either.

    Interesting idea but it won't work. Strangely it seems Microsoft's Health Vault concept has better support for using standards to easily integrate with existing systems that this google system.

  5. I was interested in trying it out, and aren’t too bothered about the security implications, (I work in the area of electronic health records and realise that there are a LOT of medical records floating around in electronic form basically unsecured anyway).

    To me there’s another big problem. Getting information into the system. You need some sort of ‘import’ button, that can either load in some standard file format (there are already a few options for health information file formats, but most of them aren’t really directly accessible to the patient). Otherwise it seems like the initiative is on the patients to collect printouts and type in the info themselves, where the tendency for (both accidental and deliberate) error is fairly high.

    I realise there is already an insignificant handful of health care providers listed that you can import from, but thats silly. You need a place where you can directly enter in some standard (like HL7) server name and patient id or something, and then everything just loads in.

    On the other side, I can’t see doctors trusting the information stored within when its so easily modified by the patient themselves either.

    Interesting idea but it won’t work. Strangely it seems Microsoft’s Health Vault concept has better support for using standards to easily integrate with existing systems that this google system.

  6. I tried to get my data onto Google Health, but my docs and service providers aren't on-line yet. Personal health records are boring — unless you really need them, or you can use them for other things. As #1 says above, there are too many opportunities for bigs, and Health data is a lot more important than credit card data. It could be very bad:
    http://www.in3.org/articles/gh2018worst.htm

    But just imagine, if it worked, it could be great:
    http://www.in3.org/articles/gh2018best.htm

  7. No flipping way. I don't trust any online service of any kind. Period.

    This is the same problem as with electronic voting systems. Someone, somewhere has to have the password. (Never mind all the ways that American electronic voting systems have screwed up in the past.)

    By the way my medical history is exceedingly boring.

  8. No flipping way. I don’t trust any online service of any kind. Period.

    This is the same problem as with electronic voting systems. Someone, somewhere has to have the password. (Never mind all the ways that American electronic voting systems have screwed up in the past.)

    By the way my medical history is exceedingly boring.

  9. I feel bloated all the time yet I am not eating anymore food than usual , actually less food and more exercise.

  10. I feel bloated all the time yet I am not eating anymore food than usual , actually less food and more exercise.