Google's medical push

Google’s medical push
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
Google’s Adam Bosworth is on a mission, a medical one, evangelizing that “increased and more targeted use of technology will help improve healthcare for all.”

Since December, Bosworth, Vice President, Engineering, has been making a Google case for empowering consumers via health information technology.

Below is a summary.

“Connecting Americans to Their Health Care: Empowered Consumers, Personal Health Records and Emerging Technologies,” keynote at Markle Foundation conference on promoting “A Common Framework for Networked Personal Health Information," December 7, 2006

Google health information track record put forth:

We are steadily building into our search the ability to make results more medically relevant, more helpful to users. Co-op is a small step in this direction. The idea is that we leverage the expertise of passionate experts, and allow the consumer to tell us which experts they trust the most. We believe this will be a powerful way for individual physicians to help their patients find better quality information on the web. For example, there can be a profile page for my personal physician who uses Google Co-op to indicate which websites he finds useful for his patients. He then gives me the link to his profile page (or I find it in the directory), I click "subscribe," and now when I search on Google, his recommended sites get ranked higher. And his name appears next to each one so I know he recommended it. This means that at least people are getting more helpful medical information in response to their search queries, helping them answer their health questions.

Google health information objectives stated:

Innovation is badly needed. There is no place individuals can go to get a comprehensive set of health and medical information about themselves. In general, your physician cannot get the lab results from your last specialist without paper and fax. Your physician cannot always reliably and optimally treat you without a comprehensive knowledge of what has been wrong with you in the past, how you were treated, and how you responded to the treatment. The lack of easily accessible, comprehensive medical records results in people being in more pain for longer than they should be. Some people are almost certainly dying unnecessarily.So what can be done? We should start at the beginning. Let's put the patients in charge of their health and medical information. Let's build a system which puts the people who are sick in control. For every single medical and health-related event, let's make sure that patients can effortlessly retrieve and share their information in its totality and then use it to ensure that they get the best quality of care possible. It is their health. The people who treat, diagnose, test or dispense medications to patients should be required to deliver, instantly, over the net, at the speed of light, that information to those patients to use as they see fit. If these patients choose to share it with caregivers or health coaches or nursing services, that should be their right.

Google health technology outlook presented:

As Google has explored this issue over the past year and we have spoken to leading health providers and institutions from coast to coast, we have heard people say that it is too hard to build consistent standards and to define interoperability ways to move the information. It is not! Ten years ago, I heard people saying the same things about how hard it would be to build consistent standards for allowing programs all across the world to share data. I set out with a small band of people to build a standard way to share any information, XML. And  once we built it, within ten years it had become the lingua franca for computers to exchange data. In general, if you build a place that accepts all data and deliver the value I just described, the standards will work themselves out. The most dramatic example of this, of course, is HTML and the browser. When the value was there, suddenly all the information in the world was in HTML. When we all make this vision real for health care, suddenly everyone will figure out how to deliver the information about medicines and prescriptions, about labs, about EKGs and CAT scans, and about diagnoses in ways that are standard enough to work.

Open letter to Google users at the Official Google blog, March 28, 2007

Soilicitation for user feedback: “How do you know you are getting the best care possible”?

We have tried to enlist the help of the health community to help us know which links contain medically reliable information, sift these reliable links so that they tend to show up relatively earlier in the search results, and then let you decide which groups in the health community you trust. If you go to Google and type in [Lipitor], for example, and then you click on the “For patients” link and look carefully, you’ll see that the search results often include at the bottom the word “Labeled By,” followed by words like NLM and HON. NLM stands for the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library, and HON stands for Health on the Net Foundation, an organization which is in the business of certifying web sites with health content that is reliable. These are organizations that have marked the part of the web that this link in the search results points to as medically reliable.

It seems that we at Google may not have done a great job of making this clear enough. Unfortunately, many of you either don’t notice these words when you’re searching about health questions at Google or have no idea what they mean. Clearly, we can do better at making this kind of labeling noticeable. I’d like to say that we have all the answers. But we don’t. Mostly, at the moment, what we have is questions and we’d love to hear from you.

“Consumerism and Health: How to Empower Consumers - Arm them with Information and Tools,” Health Information Technology Summit keynote, March 28, 2007

The Health Information Technology Summit on exploring “A Blueprint for Building a Sustainable Health Information Exchange Organization”

The diffusion of Health Information Technology remains a major thrust of American health policy. President George W. Bush has called for widespread adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) within the next ten years. In addition to digitizing the information that providers use to care for their patients within organizations; clinicians, patients, and policymakers are looking ahead to securely sharing appropriate information electronically among organizations. The combination of this past year's activities has proved to be a catalyst in advancing the development of industry standards for interoperability, enabling the flow of clinical and administrative data among key stakeholders, and demonstrating its importance for encouraging health care IT investment and facilitating health care reform. The Federal government, Congress, a number of states, and private sector leaders at the national, state and regional levels have responded with the introduction of a myriad of policies and strategies designed to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare through information technology.

FOR MORE SEE: Google Health URL trumped by Steve Case? and Google and Wal-Mart diagnose $4 trillion health care market and Microsoft to battle Google in online healthcare

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