Google already has your mind.  Now Google wants your body!


Google Health is now a live service and I’m not sure if I like the idea of Google having access to my medical records, or if I loathe the idea of Google having both my mind and body in hand.

The idea is simple:  Google wants to become your health portal.  Google Health seeks to manage your medicine, family history, and the information from your doctors. 

Do you want Google to have access to your health records?

In a quick look at the service, it looks very Googlish — but I don’t understand why I would want to add another insanely complicated health portal when my own private insurance company already offers an insanely complicated health portal.

Do two insanities make for a healthier brain?

Here are two, obvious, missing pieces in Google Health after doing simple search for a doctor in the New York City area:

1.  Is the doctor accepting new patients?  Google Health doesn’t say one way or the other.

2.  Does the doctor participate in your insurance plan?  Google Health does not offer any insurance plans detail.

What’s the point of searching for a doctor, centering on one in your area, but then having no idea if the doctor is seeing new patients or participating in your insurance?

Today, sadly, managed health care is not about finding a good doctor — it’s all about finding ANY doctor in your area that will see you and take your insurance. 

Competence and caring are no longer the prime forces driving American healthcare.  Access and payments now rule the day and rue our well-being.

Have you used Google Health yet?  If yes, what do you think of the service?  If not, will you sign up soon?

Is there any discomfort in logging in to Google to see how well your body is doing or how much more it is decaying?

8 Comments

  1. Google Health doesn’t have any advertising yet, Janna, except for their “associations” with pharmacies that will help fill your prescriptions. I guess Google must be collecting an access fee on that pharmacy end or something. So far, it’s free to use and advertising-free as well.

  2. One matter of concern: according to this article, HIPAA laws do not apply to them. While they don’t seem to have any intention of taking advantage of that, privacy with your health care information is sacrosanct and both Google and Microsoft should make it clear that they will never do anything to dishonor HIPAA.
    Another thing – as the article mentions, anyone who has ever gotten an e-mail from you could, if they get at your password, have access to all of your medical information. Not good.

  3. Thanks for the excellent points, Gordon! You’re right about HIPAA and both Google and Microsoft could voluntarily agree to abide by those privacy rules. I think this is a scary thing — much like when Microsoft tried to buy Intuit a few years ago — too creepingly close for creature comfort!

  4. It will certainly be interesting to see, arin, how this all shakes out for Google. Will people trust them with the secrets of their health? Or is there an impermeable blood-brain barrier between mind/body and the search return?

  5. No, David, I won’t be using Google health!
    But I can tell you that health providers and hospitals are all going to the electronic medical record (We just converted all our paper charts to computer-based) and I think there is capability for those systems to interact with each other and that is a scary thought!
    But in the end, providers can coordinate care much better if they have all the medical information. So that’s a good thing.
    I’d like to know which providers are participating in this Google health portal???program!
    Because providers and hospitals are very careful when releasing these records due to the HIPAA laws on privacy and it’s very tricky when you’re releasing those records to the patient directly and they start questioning those records without the presence of their doctor to answer those questions.

  6. Hi Donna!
    You’re right that there can be great danger in going virtual with our health. California, for several years, has mandated that all new medical records are digital only. Their goal is to be paperless in five years or so because that means you can always have your health records with you no matter where you are in the world. You don’t have a choice as a consumer: Your xrays, diagnostics, etc. are all virtualized. Paper is out.
    Beth Israel and the Cleveland Clinic are Google Health partners as are Walgreens, MinuteClinic (previously reviewed here!), Longs Drugs, Medco and Quest Diagnostic.
    The Cleveland Clinic test was so popular they had to turn away patients!