What the Google Privacy Dashboard can mean for health

Summary:What if you could find out where all your health data is? What if you could learn just which doctors, which hospitals, which insurers have what types of electronic data on you?

If you have checked out the Google Privacy Dashboard, you may not have noticed that it covers all Google products.

This includes Google Health, the company's Personal Health Record (PHR).

The media focus here has been on what Google knows about you, and the oh noes that Google will use that data against you.

But with the Dashboard's access to Google Health, it occurs there might be another use for it.

What if you could find out where all your health data is? What if you could learn just which doctors, which hospitals, which insurers have what types of electronic data on you?

Knowing what's out there, and knowing the rules for releasing that data, you can have full control of your privacy as we move from paper records to electronic records.

Given the trend within health IT toward more open standards, and more standards generally, it should not be too hard to provide support for this capability within, say, the NHIN-Connect system, which the Administration now calls the Health Internet.

There are lots of ways for this to go down, but the most efficient might be for the Health Internet to support a spidering technology that lets service providers offer a full health dashboard to consumers. Where within the NHIN system are what types of data on you. Not the specific data, but who has stuff, which is information we should all be entitled to.

I'll bet that would be an incredibly valuable service, because it's something we don't have right now. The availability of such a service might even drive consumer acceptance of the Health Internet itself.

Take my case, for instance. In addition to my regular doctor, I have an eye doctor, I've seen an orthopedist, I have an insurance company, and a guy who did my colonoscopy. I also have a pharmacist. All that data, in time, is supposed to feed my Personal Health Record, along with data I might create, like my workout data.

Knowing who has what puts me in charge. Computers can tell me that. This encourages me to embrace computers, and powers the movement toward PHRs.

Did I mention Google Health is a PHR?

Topics: Google, Health, IT Employment, Legal

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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