Google releases Google Health
May 20, 2008 12:02 PM
Google Inc unveiled Google Health, a long-anticipated US health information service that combines the leading web company's classic search services with a user's personal health records online.
The password-protected service stores a user's basic medical history and gathers relevant information connected to their health conditions.
Click here to go to Google Health
One feature includes a link to help users find doctors by location or specialization. The "virtual pillbox" notifies patients when they need to take medications and warns of potential drug interactions.
The service includes links to major US pharmacies, doctors' groups and medical testing labs.
Partners include Walgreen Co, Longs Drugs Stores Corp, CVS Caremark Group, AllScripts, Quest Diagnostics and the Cleveland Clinic. The company had previously said it was working with health insurers such as Aetna Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Incpharmacies.
Officials at the Mountain View, California-based company announced the long-anticipated service during a news conference to discuss developments in the company's core search business.
"If anyone can demystify what health is, and make it fun ... Google can," Dr Michael Roizen, the chief wellness officer for the Cleveland Clinic, a major private US medical group, said during the news conference at Google headquarters.
Patients would control access to their records, Google said.
The site would allow patients to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, receive diagnostic results online, and instantly add their doctors' email addresses to a list of contacts.
The electronic health records field remains in its early stages. For example, while medical providers are covered by US privacy laws, there is little in the way of established privacy, security and data usage standards for electronic personal health records despite decades of industry effort.
Google's biggest rival, Microsoft Corp, has introduced HealthVault, which gives users control over who sees the information. Among start-ups active in the field is Revolution Health, a company backed by former AOL Chairman Steve Case.
All are based on the notion that individuals should retain control over their data.
But privacy concerns and other perceived risks of online health records will remain until consumers become familiar with their benefits, Andrew Rocklin, a principal in the healthcare practice of Diamond Management & Technology Consultants, said.
When tied to exercise, dieting or other wellness programs, such records can give consumers extraordinary insights, he noted.