I will come out and say that I am excited about the Health 2.0 movement….but I do not want to overlook serious issues of privacy and security for personal information. Simply defined, Health 2.0 = the merging of social media into healthcare.

Today, the beta for Google Health officially launched. With my blog, I try to bring up points on both sides, and pose questions for discussion, and here I definitely may need your help seeing more of the positives…or educating me on how the danger of the drawbacks is being decreased. With Google Health allowing the option of importing of medical records and information, tracking medical histories and all being added into the giant that is Google, I feel there are reasons for concern.

According to the site, Google Health can

  • Organize your health information all in one place
  • Gather your medical records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies
  • Keep your doctors up to date about your health
  • Be more informed about important health issues

Automatically, upon reading this, I see a big challenge Google will face in launching this service: getting people to provide their medical records. I already am hesitant. Just how secure of a network will this be? I like to aim for objectivity, but with this new product, I will need your help as I see a few benefits, but many more drawbacks.

Benefits

  • Makes juggling you and/or your family’s health records, coverage, medications, etc. easier as it allows for people to set up accounts for others, importing of medical records from medical, dentistry or eye care.
  • Allows for self-management in a central location and for one to be more informed and educated about health choices and decisions…as well as better following finances for your health coverage.
  • Users of Google Health can import medical records from U.S. pharmacies and medical facilities that include Longs Drug Stores, Walgreens Pharmacy, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and several others.

Drawbacks

  • Google says there is no financial incentives for its partners and has a Google Health Advisory Board, but I’m not yet convinced…especially when this service is still in Beta format.
  • Privacy and Security Concerns: Who at Google will see this information? What will be done with it? Why does Google want to get into the Healthcare field….beyond wanting a competitive edge with Microsoft.
  • In particular, this question in Google Health’s FAQs makes me raise a brow:

Does the data I store in Google Health get used for other Google products, like Search?

Yes, we share information between Google products to enable joint feautres. But no personal or medical information in your Google Health profile is used to customize your Google.com search results or used for advertising. For example, you could not search for your personal medical records on Google.com search.

Seems like we have to now with Facebook, continue to possibly update our security settings to secure our information.

How It Works

Google lists 7 Steps to Easy Use of Google Health

  1. Sign Up: For you and Google’s Health Partners, the service is free. (Must be 18 or older to create a profile.)
  2. Start tracking your medical history and learn about your conditions
  3. Import Your Medical Records from your doctor’s office or pharmacy. (Walgreens is already a partner.)
  4. View Your Medical History
  5. Discover and learn how your different medications interact
  6. Use Google Health to your own advantage: get second opinions, request prescription refills
  7. Search for doctors and hospitals

Survey Says…

  1. Dave, at Insomniac Dreams, is optimistic about Google Health and looks forward to having a central place for health information management.
  2. James Niccolai, at PC World, did a nice write up about the Google Health Service, recognizing its underlying mission, but also hinting that tweaks still may be needed.
  3. In late 2007, people may remember Microsoft launching HealthVault…some allude that the long-delayed launch of Google Health is a fighting match for Google to get some more competitive edge. In March, The Washington Post gave a view on Microsoft’s HealthVault versus Google Health here…concluding that perhaps the motivation isn’t 100% to aide those with their medical management, but perhaps to cash in on a growing ‘cash cow.’
  4. Be sure to update me, let me know your thoughts or if you posted on Google’s Heath Beta…it may be too early to draw conclusions, but I’m curious what other people’s first impressions may be…. =)

The Jury is still out…