Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Google Health-a review
Google Health is officially open for business after much pre-development fanfare. It is an on-line medical record that can be added to and accessed by the patient and any entity he/she authorizes. Since the Electronic Medical Record is such a big deal, many people think Google Health will solve the problem that medical groups and hospitals have been struggling with for decades.
I checked out Google Health to see how it functions. It has good privacy policies and the patient is the only one who can authorize access. They promise not to share information with anyone else (except when required by law...remember the illegal wire taps!). It appears to be a secure site.
Information is entered easily by the patient. They have a "conditions" list that was easy for me to use but I am not sure all patients will know the medical names of their conditions. You can, however, type in the name of your condition. For example the pull down list says hypercholesterolemia but if you don't know that word you can say "high cholesterol" and that works.
You can populate the record with conditions, medications, allergies, procedures, test results and immunizations, along with your profile details like age, sex, height, weight. There are also links to "import medical records" and they have links to Walgreens, medco (mail order pharmacy), Cleveland Clinic and other select providers and Quest diagnostics. I suspect as time goes on, the link list will increase and it will be easy to have pharmacy and lab data get into the record.
Other features are "Explore health services" (which is simply links to their partner sites) and "Find a doctor". There are no ratings or quality metrics provided here...just the names and addresses in your area. It would be far more helpful if a patient could see who is accepting new patients, what languages they speak and what insurance they carry. You won't get that on Google Health at this time.
One nice feature is "drug interactions"...which gives you info after you enter your medications.
In summary, the site is easy to use, but requires a bit of computer sophistication and a lot of work for the patient to get it populated with information. It would be a good and easy way for patients to keep track of their screening tests, immunizations and drugs without having to carry around little pieces of paper. It has a really clean look, just like the Google Search Site. There are no ads (hurray!!)
I don't anticipate many doctors using this and it should not be confused with a robust "Electronic Medical Record" (eHR) . A good eHR has real time data that can be used by everyone caring for the patient and includes a problem list, all tests, current medications, labs, consultations and progress notes.
Google Health is a repository of health information and it is only as good as the info the patient puts in. It will need to be updated and maintained to be accurate. It is a good way, however, for patients to start getting involved in their own health maintenance.
I must admit I will probably use YouTube more than Google Health.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 1:24 PM