Sunday, June 8, 2008

Is Google good for your health records? By PATRICK O'DONNELL AND JOHN HORTON

People have got heard about the benefits of putting their medical records online:

• They can be accessed wherever you go ill.

• They let you to break path your health.

• They may stop the fuss of filling out a doctor's clipboard full of questions.

But people worry about the drawbacks — especially if a security breach unleashes your most private inside information into the public domain?

Internet giant Google's recent leap into the concern with its Google Health land site () brought the argument to the desktops of billions of people, who suddenly wonder: What should I do?

Though the service is still developing, experts offering a small advice and some inquiries for you to consider.

Q: Make I have got another choice?

A: Your physician or coverage company may already hive away your records electronically. Experts state this is the manner of the future.

Q: So what's different about Google Health?

A: Google Health and respective others, including HealthVault, started by Microsoft last year, take the thought to another level.

These systems allow you garner your records from all your docs — old ones, new ones, from close and far — in one online warehouse. That salvages you from keeping a heap of document in the house, allows you see them with a few keystrokes and gives you a manner to share them with your current doctors.

Q: Bashes that really help?

A: Experts listing respective ways it can be valuable: if you have got docs in different metropolises or wellness systems that demand to share your records, if you necessitate aid keeping path your prescriptions or if you necessitate aid trailing things like immunisations or the days of the month of certain diagnostic tests or treatments.

Q: What enters travel on Google Health?

A: Whatever you make up one's mind to set there. Now, online systems can take only textual matter data files — electronic versions of prescriptions, doctors' short letters and laboratory reports.

Q: How make my records acquire on there?

A: You tin come in information yourself, though this can take a long clip if you have got a batch of information to enter. For a fee, a company workings with Google will garner the records and set them on. Walgreens and curriculum vitaes apothecary's shops are also partners. Their records can travel on Google Health easily.

Q: Can't my physician just set my records on there?

A: Not now. Many docs don't have got electronic records. Those that have got records on the computing machine don't fit Google's format. The conception of online wellness records is so new that no criterion exists.

Q: Who can see your records?

A: Anyone you give your watchword to.

Q: Bashes it cost?

A: Google Health is free. So is HealthVault.

Q: Make docs urge using a service like this?

A: They have got mixed feelings.

Even though the Cleveland Clinic is a partner, its head information military officer and president of the Information Technology Division , Dr. St Martin Harris, makes not utilize Google Health. But that's because all his wellness attention is within the clinic and he's already in the clinic's computing machine system. But St Martin advised his father, who have docs in two cities, to utilize it.

University Hospital's head medical information officer, Dr. Holly Miller, said she's not ready to take that step. "Would I set my personal wellness information in the custody of a third-party vendor?" she said.

Q: Why not?

A: Caution must steer the process, Glenn Miller said. While she believes online records will be common someday, the thought is sorting itself out.

Q: Is Google Health secure?

A: Google states it is. Privacy experts, however, warn that no system is impervious. A security breach could let go of personal information — mental wellness records, perhaps, or human immunodeficiency virus diagnostic test consequences — and scintilla reputations, said Linda Ackerman, staff advocate for Privacy Activism, a San Francisco-based consumer advocacy group.

Q: Bashes HIPAA apply?

A: Because Google's a nonmedical provider, it doesn't fall under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which takes to protect patient privacy.

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