Now I'm scared: Google Health

by Volker Weber

With Google Health, you can store and manage all your health information in one place. And it's completely free. All you need to get started is a Google username and password.

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OMG. Fingerprints will be next. And all other biometric data. It´s good to have them all in one place. Isn´t it?

Armin Roth, 2008-05-19

I'm a patient of the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland Ohio (the beta test hospital for this system)

It took 3 hours of dealing with hospital administration to delete my data from the beta site.

Seems patients were, by default, auto-enrolled.

What a pain in the backside. I'm not happy that it happened, but I've verified several times that it was indeed removed. Does it mean it's sitting somewhere on the Google campus? Probably...

todd kravos, 2008-05-20

No good can come from this, Mr Huxley is watching..

Brave New World

Mark Elgar, 2008-05-20

DNA storage supported?

Timo Zimmermann, 2008-05-20

Well, Google will find out that customers love their products, which isn't the same as picking up every new thing that's thrown at them like sheep.

Even if my health information was save on the Google servers against internal leaking, I wouldn't post such information on a website where you can simply log in with a password (although I have a strong password).

Philipp Sury, 2008-05-20

I have all my biometrics in one place... and that's my physical body. I guess that's the only place where they should all be stored together.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2008-05-20

@Ragnar; succinct, and dead right.

Nick Daisley, 2008-05-20

I worked in an EBO (Emerging Business Opportunities) on Telemedicine especially patient monitoring. I can tell you that the patients don't give a **** about privacy etc. as long as it helps them.
If you are healthy you care of course, but if you are sick the only thing you want is to get better.

Martin Hiegl, 2008-05-20

btw. in Denmark Acure, an IBM division, build something similar (if understand the concept correctly) for the government some time ago:

Martin Hiegl, 2008-05-20

why JET just so scared? Google Earth, Google Health... just a matter of time before google bank.

Henrik Heigl, 2008-05-20

Hosting this kind of information, it'll become increasingly harder for Google to hold on to the "Don't be bad" attitude.

Of course, automatic enrollment is an absolute no-go. Sometimes I love the german attitude of thinking about the possible effects before starting to run.

Arnd Layer, 2008-05-20

My health care provider here in USA is offering a new service through WebMD to store health information and lab results.

I am actually of the mindset that if it is secure and can help my doctors fix me faster, I am all for it. But it needs to be SECURE.

Of course when I tried to set it up, it started to ASK ME all kind of questions about what illnesses I have... didn't like that

Being originally from Germany and knowing the limitation of that health care system (although it change a lot since 2000, didn't it? Seems it got worse if doctors are protesting so much)... I am really not sure where health care should go...

Michael Kobrowski, 2008-05-20

The story was picked up by the New York Times and referenced by a prominent Cleveland blogger:

Brewed Fresh Daily

Gregg Eldred, 2008-05-20

I agree with Martin, that if you are healthy, you do not need this. If you have a medical problem, you want doctors to know all they can.

My son has a nut allergy. If he has a reaction to something he eats (and he didn't wear his medical bracelet), then there is really no way for someone to know what is wrong with him if they cannot reach me. Personally, I would give permission to anyone who wanted to read this information.

Maybe that is a solution. Have a public profile and a private profile. Everyone can read the public profile (e.g. for people who have diabetes) but only designated people can read the private profile?

Frank Paolino, 2008-05-20

@Frank: You want doctors to know all they can. The problem about a database such as Google Health is that its data will most likely not be limited to doctors and patients in the long run.

Later, we will (!) have insurances, employers, governments reading these data and making their assumptions about the people whose data is stored in that database.

Health information is very problematic data to share in public.

Your son's nut allergy is a harmless example and our society doesn't consider nut allergies a problem that makes a person a (financial) risk to the rest of the community. But there are several health risks where it's not that 100% certain on how to act on them.

There are genetic and non-genetic defects that may lead to chronic diseases but don't have to.

Imagine a person who has a disposition of 10% to become crippled by the age of 35. Would you hire him for your company? Would you allow him to sign up for a contract at your health insurance company? Would you allow him to immigrate to your country? Would you allow him to have children and inherit the risk?

10% is a rather high risk when it comes to health problems, but it's not certain. What would you do if that risk was 50%? Or 80%

You may want to read these articles about genetic discrimination.

These are just some of the moral implications we have to ask ourselves with public health data.

You might want to see the movie Gattaca. It's Hollywood, all right, but it's an interesting fiction about these question.

Hanno Zulla, 2008-05-21

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