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Google Health: A test run

Google Health is up, and it is getting a LOT of press this week.

I wrote last month for the site about the challenges this and other on-demand personal health record programs will present for hospital CIOs. And since then, I’ve been dying to at least get a look at it.

Some thoughts:

1. Already have a Google account for mail or RSS? You’re sort of already on Google Health. You just have to…

2. Agree to the terms of service. Google reminds you it is not a doctor and that it is not a HIPPA-covered entity. It tells you that “you give Google a license to use and distribute it in connection with Google Health and other Google services. However, Google may only use health information you provide as permitted by the Google Health Privacy Policy, your Sharing Authorization, and applicable law.” Awesomely, it warns you that you may be offended by some explicit content.

3. Agree to the “sharing authorization agreement,” which is basically the user OKing Google giving the information to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies approved by the user. It says this keeps going until the user deletes the account.

4. Inside looks pretty good/simple. There are only a handful of partners for this beta version (isn’t everything Google does still in beta?), so can’t really give this a test run just yet.

5. A little bummed here with the “Find a Doctor” option. I used a pull-down menu and selected dermatology. Then I typed Somerville, MA in the search bar. My first three responses are doctors in the neighboring city of Medford. Fourth response is the FuShen Therapeutic Spa in Medford. I guess the idea is to find and add a doctor you already work with. But my gut here is to find a doctor I need, preferably someone in my PPO network.

Dr. John Halamka, CIO at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, sat on a Google Health advisory board. He discusses the new program and attempts to assuage security concerns. Also, our friends over at connect us to a blogger who is, understandably, concerned about privacy.

Hmm. Just signed out of Google Health and it signed me out of Gmail as well. Signed back in to Gmail and checked Google Health’s homepage. My username and password (obscured as stars, of course) come up. Still, can’t we put a better safeguard on this? Maybe I should be required to manually enter my password every time I want to look at my health records? This could be my fault, but still, Google should make it hard to accidentally access an account.

In other health news, anyone beat cancer last year? Cause this guy did. And Monday night he threw a no-hitter. Hey cancer, you suck! Have a fastball.

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