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Google Health launched though privacy fears persist

World News | May 20, 2008


PharmaTimes

Some 18 months after it was first announced, the internet search engine giant Google has unveiled a new service that helps user manage their personal health records online.

The service, which can be found at www.google.com/health/, offers users “a safe and secure way to collect, store, and manage their medical records and health information online”, according to Marissa Mayer, Google vice president for search products and user experience. In a blog-spot, she said that Google Health will “harness the power of the internet to put users in control of their own medical records”.

Addressing users, Ms Mayer added that “data will stay with you – if you change doctors, want a second opinion, if you’re travelling – and not stay siloed or stuck in files or databases that you can’t get to”. She went on to say that “in this day and age of information, isn’t it crazy that you don’t have a copy of your medical records under your control? You could use those records to develop a better understanding of your health and ultimately get better care.”

The service includes links to well-known US care providers and pharmacies such as Walgreen, Longs Drugs Stores Corp, CVS Caremark, Quest Diagnostics and the Cleveland Clinic. Google says that it has "strong privacy policies in place” to keep patient information safe.

However some observers have expressed concern that much of the information stored in Google Health will not be covered by the USA’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. However, Ms Mayer noted that the new service, which will not carry adverts, has put strong privacy policies in place.

Google Health will now compete with Microsoft’s HealthVault, WebMD and Revolution Health.

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