A View from Emily Singer
Google Health Launches
Security concerns are already surfacing.
Google launched its much anticipated medical database service today at a press event at the company’s offices in Mountain View, CA. Previewed in February, the service provides a place where Google users can store medical history, compile prescriptions, and search for relevant medical information.
The search giant has already lined up some big-name partners. Walgreen’s, CVS, Longs Drugs Stores, AllScripts, Quest Diagnostics, and the Cleveland Clinic have all announced partnerships.
For example, according to a press release from CVS,
By integrating on the Google Health platform, patients who receive treatment at MinuteClinic, the retail-based health clinic subsidiary of CVS Caremark, will be able to securely import their visit summaries into their Google Health Accounts.
One of the biggest hurdles facing Google Health is whether consumers trust the company enough to hand over their most intimate medical details. Google promises that security has been a primary concern when building the database. But the true test of whether the company has assuaged privacy fears will come when we see how many people sign up.
A blog posted minutes after the launch may be a preview of things to come:
However, the terms of usage gave me a little pause. The biggest issue: Typical health information protections–HIPAA–don’t apply. During a demo, Google executives said that the user controls the information and the search giant won’t share information unless the patient says it’s OK. That’s a great promise, but it’s not HIPAA.
According to the terms of service,
Use of Your Information
In addition, Google makes information available to third services if you permit it, and it keeps that access open until you actively disable it. That could be a sticking point for those of us who are too lazy to actively manage our accounts.