Google Health still faces skeptics on opening day

Doubts surrounding security, and Google's ability to keep the service free of advertising

Google this week opened its hosted online patient medical records service to the public, seven months after first announcing plans for a foray into health care.

The Google Health program, which allows patients to store personal health information online, this week continued to generate more questions about privacy and security than fanfare.

Carlton Doty, a Forrester Research analyst who follows consumer-based health IT efforts, said such efforts often prompt detractors to immediately decry a lack of privacy and security protections. However, he predicted that consumers will probably get over these concerns eventually, just as they have mostly overcome fears of providing credit card information to e-commerce Web sites.

However, Doty did note that a lack of sufficient partners could cause problems "The biggest barrier here is that for personal health records to really be useful, they need to tie together not just users inputting information, but [also] information from the provider from their electronic medical records and information from the insurers," he said. "I don't think Google or anybody is really there yet."

Early on, the program will rely mostly on a patient's own input because of the lack of partners outside of early signees such as The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and drug store chain Walgreens Co. "When it comes to lab data and medical history and those kinds of things, doctors rely today on reliable sources -- not the consumers themselves," Doty noted.

In addition, he questioned whether Google can keep to its pledge not to include advertising on the Google Health site.

Pharmaceutical companies would be a likely source of advertising dollars, he said. "To effectively place those advertisements, you have to open up that database to those pharmaceutical companies," Doty said. "For me, to store my medical information in that type of a setting and have pretty much any company that targets health care consumers have access to my health care data -- even if it's anonymous -- it still just doesn't feel right."

In the Google Health privacy policy, the company pledged not to "sell, rent or share" consumer health information. "You control who can access your personal health information," the policy states. "By default, you are the only user who can view and edit your information. If you choose to, you can share your information with others."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?