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March 2, 2008

More Details About Google Health

This week we found more details about Google Health, a not-yet-released service for managing personal health information. Marissa Mayer showed us some screenshots and the underlying principles of Google Health:
One of the most exciting and innovative parts of Google Health is our platform strategy. We're assembling a directory of third-party services that interoperate with Google Health. Right now, this means you'll be able to automatically import information such as your doctors' records, your prescription history, and your test results into Google Health in order to easily access and and control your data. Later, this platform strategy will mean that you will be able to interact with services and tools easily, and will be able to do things like schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and start using new wellness tools.

Google sponsored the research of George Church, a scientist that "plans to unlock the secrets of common diseases by decoding the DNA of 100,000 people in the world's biggest gene sequencing project". Asked if Google Health could make it easy to access genetics services, Marissa Mayer said: "We have some genetic partners where we've already been making investments. Genetics is much further out, and will be done at the control and discretion of the user."

Eric Schmidt explained that the idea for launching a health service came after looking at Google Search data. "[We] looked at what do people actually do with search in terms of the volume, and the importance of health came out No. 1... We tend to think of Google Health as an extension of search."

The service is likely not to include advertising since it will encourage people to use Google Search more. Google's CEO gave Google News as an example of non-monetized service: "Every month we say to ourselves should we add ads to Google News or add more news features to Google News and every month we decide to add more Google news features. (...) A Google News user is more likely to be a Google searcher and therefore clicks on ads more."

Eric Schmidt also gave an interesting keynote speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference (a YouTube user comments: "As ever Eric Schmidt is knowledgeable, funny and engaging").


  1. I wonder how/if Google Health will also be of use to those companies who are providing services that are indirectly related with health care, such as those selling medical supplies. We're just as concerned with what is happening in the health care industry as are the doctors/nurses and patients.

  2. I am a medical doctor. I see patients every day. Including the Emergency Room where I work.

    Because of that, I deeply understand, not only theoretically but as part of my daily experience that patient-physician relationship is the key for the quality of health-care.

    A patient must trust his doctor. If there is no confidence, we lost a lot (patients and docs).

    Saying that, privacy of data becomes a real importante issue. A patient that talks about his sexual activities, extramatrimonial affairs, fears, weakness, mental health… should be sure that the doctor will not reveal that information to third parties.

    During thousands years physician have follow this hippocrates oath sencente: What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

    So at the moment I designed the keyose ( service, I have a very clear idea: privacy must be the priority number one!

    Storing thousands of personal health records electronically has a big risk. What if someone unauthorized (a cracker for instance) access to the database? No matter how much money or effort you invest in the security of a system. There is no 100% secure system in the world. And the health information of thousand of people is very attractive to so many people (government, insurers, bank, private companies, criminals devoted to extortion…).

    There are many companies entering the business of eHealth. Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault are just the two most known examples. As a medical doctor I am really concerned about the privacy of data. 90% of UK physicians and German doctors think like me.

    Keyose was designed in such a way that no personal information is stored. We do not need your name, email or identity. And more importantly: We do not want it.

    I would never put my personal, my patients or my relatives health information in a online database that contains the identity of the patients. You can trust me!

    Dr. Julio Bonis

  3. This seems pretty scary with privacy concerns. Should a 3rd party, for-profit corporation really have all this information?

  4. I started entering some basic details to testt this out and then it all crashed and poof! All my personal health information was gone.

    Did not install confidence....

    But at the same time I understand having access and control over your own health records is an empowering feeling and could be for the good. Just needs to be water tight.