Thursday, November 30, 2006

Paging Dr. Google...

This post on the Google Blog reminded me of this Op-Ed piece in the Chicago Tribune a couple months ago. Seems Google is trying to keep the health care industry off its mounting list of industries who have a bone to pick with the Internet giant.

Google is a natural choice these for initially finding information, and as the Google Blog post mentions, Google has modified its search results to include a list of other options like "treatment," "symptoms," "causes/risks" etc. That's all fine and dandy, and as with anything related to the Internet, there is a wealth of information from websites that are created solely for a particular issue or ailment, like depression.

But Google hasn't refined its medical term search quite as well as medical search engine websites like WebMD. Even Google displays results from WebMD. Google "sore knee" for example, and the first result is from WebMD. Has to do with home treatment, and that makes me wonder why not just start with a medical search engine like WebMD which gives your results that relate to sore knees and not knee injuries of college athletes?

WebMD is a start in the right direction, and my guess is Google will try to trump it and add the organization of health care information to its list of "do no evil" deeds. Does that include medical records?

It's one thing to organize medical information for research or educational purposes, but organizing individual medical information, medical records, is creepy. I don't want Google to have my medical history, list of ailments, medications or any sort of test results.

So it will be interesting to see if Google manages to cut through the health care red tape and make everyone's medical information free to all, as long as you have a Google account.

2 comments:

CAP said...

The growing challenges of health care and the privacy thereof are and always will be a thorny issue. However, [and i think that you were heading in this direction] access to relevant diagnosis, disease-state information and "conversations" (take that as you will) is incredibly important for patients and care-givers to more easily access.

You are right in that WebMD, Healthia (aka Vivmo), organizedwisdom, and others are ahead of the curve of Google when it comes to health-specific search results BUT ironically i think that it is helpful for google to publicly focus on health search as a sector b/c that pressure will only ensure that other companies and VCs will fund more efforts to improve the woeful infrastructure and tools available to Consumers.

Merely a simpleton's opinion.

christopher
www.medbillmanager.com

Bradford said...

"It's one thing to organize medical information for research or educational purposes, but organizing individual medical information, medical records, is creepy..."

Individual medical information is also known as "protected health information" (PHI) and its use is governed by HIPAA regulations.

Any innovation in medical record information sharing would certainly have to follow HIPAA to a T. If Google could pull this off ... (i.e. securely), I would be inclined to trust this, just like I trust gmail to collect and scan my email.