Google pilot program stores health records

February 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Google is adding a new service to its list of ever-expanding offerings. This time it's your medical records. The pilot project is being announced Thursday.

No one really knows how secure the service will be until it is tested. As much as Google is a household name and an iconic Internet search leader, there will still be privacy apprehension about their newest venture into the personal health records management service that they've got online.

Google is announcing a two-month pilot project that involves storing the medical files of up 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic. Patients participating in this test service volunteered to an electronic transfer of their personal health records, so they can retrieve the information on the Internet through Google's new service.

Patients can look up data about their prescriptions or medical histories, even after they're no longer at that clinic.

The records will not be open to the general public. Each is password-protected and requires using some of Google's tools, like its e-mail.

Even so, privacy watchdogs question the safety of this information on the Web. Some critics also feel Google already knows too much about the information it stores about users' search requests.

Another concern is that these third-party medical record services are not covered by the federal HIPAA law which protects who can access your medical information.

The Cleveland Clinic, a big long-time medical center, is endorsing Google and its storage of personal health records.

Google is not the only tech giant getting into this businss. Microsoft launched its own service last year. Google is not yet revealing when it plans to launch to the broader public, as well as how it will profit from it.