Personal health records
Google lets patients share health
Google Health, the personal health
record service available in the United States, is now permitting users
to share their records with friends and family.
The decision to allow others to monitor one’s medical profile results
from feedback it has gotten since the Google Health medical records
service was launched in May 2008.
“One issue we hear regularly is that people want help coordinating their
care and the care of loved ones,” Google product manager Sameer Samat
said in a message posted at the California firm’s website.
“They want the ability to share their medical records and personal
health information with trusted family members, friends, and doctors in
their care network.”
Google Health now has a “share this profile” feature that permits chosen
people to view, but not alter, online medical records.
“A few years ago, my father suffered a minor heart attack and was sent
to the emergency room,” Samat wrote.
“I arrived on the scene in a panic, and was asked what medications he
was taking. I had no clue. If my father had a Google Health account, and
had shared his profile with me, I would have been up-to-date on his
Renewable links to health records are uniquely tailored to each
recipient and automatically expire after 30 days, according to Google.
“You can stop sharing at any time, and you can always see who has access
to your information,” Samat said.
“Those who are viewing your profile can only see the profile you share,
not any other one in your account.”
Benefits of electronic health records have been touted by U.S. President
Barack Obama and are believed by analysts to strongly appeal to “Baby
Boomers” – the generation of Americans born between the late 1940s and
Microsoft rolled out a HealthVault online medical records storage and
management service in October 2007. It, too, is available only in the
Privacy advocates worry that online medical information is vulnerable to
tampering or snooping, possibly from insurance companies or employers
out to reduce liabilities by shunning those with health issues.
Google said it built a secure computer platform separate from its search
system to host medical records as part of an emphasis on keeping health
Google vice president of search product and user experience Marissa
Mayer said at the launch of Health that it was built with “our highest
level of security.” Google Health has links to pharmacies, clinics and
The service is free and enables people to have electronic copies of
information such as prescriptions, lab test results, hospital stays, and
medical conditions stored on Google computers.
People can link heart monitors to Google Health so vital statistics can
be fed to a heart attack assessment services online.
A “virtual pillbox” will also automatically send alerts to people’s
mobile telephones, reminding them when it is time to take medicines.
Users of the service dictate how the information is shared.