Google Health

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Google Health is a personal health information centralization service (sometimes known as personal health record services) by Google. The service allows Google users to volunteer their health records – either manually or by logging into their accounts at partnered health services providers – into the Google Health system, thereby merging potentially separate health records into one centralized Google Health profile.

Volunteered information can include "health conditions, medications, allergies, and lab results".[1] Once entered, Google Health uses the information to provide the user with a merged health record, information on conditions, and possible interactions between drugs, conditions, and allergies.[2]


Privacy concerns

Google Health is an opt-in service, meaning it can only access medical information volunteered by individuals. It does not retrieve any part of a person's medical records without his or her explicit consent and action.[1] However, it does encourage users to set up profiles for other individuals.[2]

According to its Terms of Service, Google Health is not considered a "covered entity" under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996; thus, HIPAA privacy laws do not apply to it.[3].

In an article covering Google Health's launch, the New York Times discussed privacy issues and said that "patients apparently did not shun the Google health records because of qualms that their personal health information might not be secure if held by a large technology company."[4] Others contend that Google Health may be more private than the current "paper" health record system because of reduced human interaction.[5]

Post-launch reactions to Google's stance that it is not a covered entity have varied. Some have been very negative, like the comments of blogger Robert "RSnake" Hansen[6] and those of Nathan McFeters at ZDNet[7]. Others, including Free/Open Source Software Healthcare activist Fred Trotter, argue that a personal health record service like Google Health would be impossible if it were HIPAA covered.[8]

Price and income

Google Health, like many other Google products, is free to use for consumers. Unlike other Google services, however, Health currently contains no advertising.[9] Google has not revealed how it plans to make money with the service, but a Wall Street Journal article says that Google "hasn't ruled [advertising] out for the future."[10]


Google Health has been under development since mid-2006. In 2008, the service underwent a two-month pilot test with 1,600 patients of The Cleveland Clinic.[4]

As of May 20, 2008, Google Health has been released to the general public as a service in beta test stage.


Google Health's API is based on a subset of the Continuity of Care Record (CCR).[11]


Google Health can currently import medical and/or drug prescription information from the following partners: Allscripts, Anvita Health, The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, The Cleveland Clinic, CVS Caremark, Healthgrades, Longs Drugs, Medco Health Solutions, Quest Diagnostics, RxAmerica, and Walgreens.[12]

Users whose health records reside with other providers may either manually enter their data or pay to have a Google Health partner perform the service. "MediConnect Global"[13] is one such partner; for a fee, they will gather a user's medical records from around the world and add them to his or her profile.

Recently, in response to demand for added convenience, Google Health began establishing relationships with telehealth providers that will allow their users to sync the data shared during telehealth consultations with their online health records. To date, partnerships have been formed with the following companies: MDLiveCare and Hello Health.[14]


Google Health is a personal health record (PHR) service whose primary competitors in the United States are Microsoft's HealthVault, Dossia, and the open-source Indivo project. There are numerous other open-source and proprietary PHR systems, including those that compete outside the United States.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Google Health: About Google Health". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Google Health: Take a Tour". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  3. "Google Health: Terms of Service". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "New York Times: Google Offers Personal Health Records on the Web". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  5. "Humanist → Google Health Can Fix U.S. Healthcare". Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  6. " web application security lab - Archive » Google Health". Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  7. "RSnake picks on Google Health… yes, Google wants your medical records, too!". Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  8. "In all Fairness". Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  9. "Google Health: Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  10. "Wall Street Journal: Google Helps Organize Medical Records". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  11. "Google Health Data API: CCR Reference". Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  12. "Google Health: Partner Profiles". Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  14. "Fall update on Google Health". Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  15. History of the Personally Controlled Health Record: "The Indivo project has its roots in the Guardian Angel project, a collaboration between Harvard and MIT ..."; the article shows a simple timeline or pedigree of the Personally Controlled Health Record.

External links

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