About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Friday, February 22, 2008

Google's PHR to Debut

After months of secrecy, Google has announced its plans for a personal health record (PHR). They are debuting a pilot program with the Cleveland Clinic.

In essence, here's what it looks like:
  • People can create personal medical histories using Google forms. They'll be stored securely on Google's servers.
  • People can elect to share these documents with anyone they want.
  • Cleveland Clinic staff can export their own electronic patient records, which they already store with their own software systems, to the patent's Google medical history.
The bottom line is that people have electronic records of their medical history, and can do what they want with them.

Google assures everyone that the system is secure. Microsoft made the same guarantees with its HealthVault program, which debuted in the fall.

What does this mean for corporate HR and wellness staff?

Not much--other than the knowledge that, over the next few years, some portion of their employee population may have personal PHRs with Google, Microsoft, or another similar company. How this would relate to records maintained by insurance carriers--or a company's wellness plan--is unclear.

You can see the possibilities: Employees being able to collect their annual blood pressure results and other data gathered at a health fair in their PHRs.

And then there's the question of HIPAA. Some experts are saying that by putting their records in a personal space online, people are essentially opting out of HIPAA protections. I'm no lawyer, so I have no idea if it's true or even possible.

Anyway, here are some more links to stories about Google's plans.

USA Today on Google and privacy questions

The Health Care Blog's Matthew Holt's quick take on it

Reuters news report

No comments: