Thursday, February 21, 2008
I suffer from poor eyesight and intense seasonal allergies, but I'm thankful that health issues occupy just a small portion of my life. Even though I'm rather healthy, I sometimes find myself needing access to accurate health information. I can get a long way by searching for health facts online, but I also need to incorporate what I find with my own history of conditions and treatments. I didn't even realize I had allergies until my early twenties -- for more years than I care to admit, I'd forget that the "cold" I came down with in April was suspiciously similar to the one I had at exactly the same time the year before. I've often been overwhelmed when trying to determine or track a condition, because my personal record of health information is either nonexistent, or it's spread on forms and receipts from (at least) a dozen doctors and five insurance companies.
Working as an engineer here on the health team, I've been excited to participate in building tools that will help me and others manage our personal health information more effectively. Many innovators in the healthcare industry have worked hard to make results of doctor visits, prescriptions, tests and procedures available digitally. By using the GData protocol already offered in many Google products, and supporting standards-based medical information formats like the Continuity of Care Record (CCR), our health efforts will help you access, store and communicate your health information. Above all, health data will remain yours -- private and confidential. Only you have control over when to share it with family members and health providers.
This week, we hit another important milestone. We launched a pilot with a medical institution committed to giving patients access to their own medical records: The Cleveland Clinic. A large academic medical center, Cleveland is one of the first partners to integrate on our platform. Because of their size and reach with patients who already have access to their medical records online, Cleveland has been a great partner for us to test out our data sharing model. Patients participating in the Cleveland pilot give authorization via our AuthSub interface to have their electronic medical records safely and securely imported into a Google account. It's great to see our product getting into the hands of end users, and I look forward to the feedback that the Cleveland patients will provide us.
Cleveland is just the first of many healthcare providers that will securely send medical records and information via Google APIs at your request. We've been hard at work collaborating with a number of insurance plans, medical groups, pharmacies and hospitals. While this pilot is open initially to just a few thousand patients, I see it as an important first step to show how Google can help users get access to their medical records and take charge of their health information.