The march of the Google juggernaut continues. Google might falter, it might stumble once in a while, but in its wake they do give us some novel services to play around with.
[NO LONGER WORKS] Google Health still has a beta tag after having being launched in the early part of 2008. Those who are still unfamiliar with what it is all about, here is a walk around the service.
Consider Google Health to be our personal medical records folder, with the contents well protected and secure. With just a Google account we can store all our medical records online in one central place and access it from anywhere.
With web access being just a click away, Google Health helps us systematize and record all the tests and treatments we have gone through and keep them up to date. Of course, it is not a replacement for the original paper records but a backup in the event of an immediate information need.
In an age when accurate information is the most vital key, Google Health addresses it by providing its own abundance of accessibility, convenience and user-control by putting out some functional features.
Create health profiles
All you need is a free Google account to log in and start creating profiles – records of your physical measurements, conditions, medications, allergies, surgeries undertaken, test results and immunizations if any.
Create multiple profiles if need be. The information can be added manually or selected from a comprehensive list. Handy reference links also have been provided for further information regarding symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Import medical records from hospitals & pharmacies
Google has partnered with about 15 healthcare providers which helps you to securely import your pre-existing medical history from these services. This further enables centralization of all your health records in one place. Though the list seems to be short, for a beta application it can be considered as a wind up.
Manage your health with integrated health services
Google also has an [NO LONGER WORKS] online health services directory – a list of health service providers who provide consultations, health management and drug information services. You can grant permission to these services to read your health records and provide recommendations based on your medical history. Google has no financial arrangement with any of these third parties.
Share health information
In the truest tradition of the new age web, Google recently updated the service with a Share this profile feature. This enables you to share your personal medical history with trusted contacts like your family members or your doctor.
Include the email addresses of your inner circle and they will receive an e-mail with a link to your profile. They alone will have access to the information stored in your health profile.
Sharing health information assumes importance during medical emergencies when the user himself is under medical attention and unable to give out his historical details.
In the interests of security, the trusted contacts will only be able to see and not edit the records. Also, the link will automatically expire after 30 days though sharing access does not expire till you decide to stop it. A user activity report which monitors the visits to your profile adds another level of confidentiality.
Information on drug interactions
Google Health also correlates the medications being entered into the profile and finds possible causes of conflict between the drugs. It gives a generalized suggestion via a drug interaction checker from SafeMed which should be followed up with the physician.
Add your medical contacts or search for a doctor
In this section you can manually add details like that of your family physician. A Find a doctor search box allows you to find a doctor by speciality and area.
Print your records
The print feature gives two choices – a wallet-sized option that prints out a card with the user’s medications and allergies or a larger letter-sized PDF document with the user details.
Graph your health
The graphing feature gives you a visual cue of your health trends over time by outputting the data from your medical tests on a time scale. With a look a user can make out the progress of a treatment.
Is Google Health worth a log-in?
Yes, as a personal health record service it is in beta and still a bit rough hewn. Security of online health information is a debatable touch point. An important note is that Google Health does not come under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, though some of the third party service providers listed do. Google Health as of date remains only fully relevant for the United States.
The discordant noises aside, Google Health comes with a lot of possibilities. As Google continues to add functionalities (don’t they always do!), we could see the evolution of another widely used web app from the Google stable. Who knows one day, we could schedule doctor appointments by syncing our Google calendar with Google Health.
What do you think of this Google service? Do you think that sharing health information in a centralized space is important for safeguarding a life in case of an emergency? Give us an opinion.