Google Health Demo-yes it’s a PHR, but that’s not the important thing!

At 30.30 of Eric Schmidt’s talk at HIMSS Roni Zeigler gives a brief demo of Google Health.

The only thing it doesn’t show is the actual data transfer from the Cleveland Clinic and back—but there is data in there that has been transfered both ways (Cleveland Clinic data in Google, self-entered data from Google seen in the Clinic’s MyChart from Epic)

Of course those of you at the Health 2.0 Conference yesterday saw exactly that transfer from Microsoft Healthvault. Bill Reid from Microsoft asked Taylor Giles from Kryptiq to show their tool which moved data back and forth from information emailed from physician to patient (using Kryptik’s secure email) and allows the patient to email it to anyone.

Bill & Microsoft is at pains to explain that HeathVault is not a PHR. Missy Krasner from Google, who unfortunately wasn’t able to demo but kindly took a question from the floor, said that Google was fine calling theirs a PHR.

But what matters here is not what we call it. It’s what it does!

Two issues. One was brought up by a comment right at the end of Eric Schmidt’s talk (wind forward to the last minute) when a doctor said the obvious—if he could get the patients permission to access all this data, he’d save time, he’d save money and he’d provide better care.

The second is obvious and very important. With these new platforms for information (and here’s hoping that the existence of the platform forces organizations to allow consumers to port their data to it much as Quicken has done to banks) we can now do all kinds of interesting things to the data—which means doing all kinds of interesting things to out health. Obviously that includes personalizing search (well at least Google and Microsoft hope so as that’s the part of the service that they want to make money on), but it also potentially includes so much more. I am really interested in apps that are going to run on top of this, for which to this point people have not been able to include records, and have to had to self enter limited data. I see the tag line now:

“Bring your data from Google Health or HealthVault into our drug screener/health risk assessment checker/diagnosis tool/medical destination finder/doctor finder”. So let 100 applications bloom and may the best win.

So can the next reporter who calls me about this please ask about that, and not bother asking for my “concerns about privacy”. (OK I’ll talk to them about privacy too, and I’ll try to keep my temper).

Thanks to both Google and Microsoft for coming to the table. Now I hope the Google team can both get the production version up soon, and release those APIs ASAP!

4 Responses to Google Health Demo-yes it’s a PHR, but that’s not the important thing!

  1. Steve Downs says:

    I think you've got it dead right. It's the applications — not the record — that will add value and help people stay healthy. So a key question is, besides the HealthVault and Google APIs, what can be done to encourage innovative applications?
    - Steve

  2. John Norris says:

    You are right…it is the external, 3rd party, applications that along with tethering to the EMR that will help win the day.
    However, exporting my data to a 3rd party is somewhat scary. Might there be a way that one can import the 3rd party algorithm, run it on one's trusted space, and get the information?
    This would somewhat like downloading software to run on your PC, tapping into your local data.
    People may be more apt to go for that.

  3. Steve Downs says:

    What you’re describing is not unlike the approach we’re taking with Project HealthDesign. As a proof-of-concept, we’re creating some basic data structures and services that can support the various applications of our project teams. So, for example, we have a structure for storing medication information and then an API that enables an application, using web services calls, to read that info and, if appropriate, write to it as well. An application that pulls your medication dispensing instructions and populates your Google calendar could run locally (or on the Web) without having to host your meds information. (You can download the requirements we developed for these services at One of the interesting questions is how many viable platforms (like HealthVault and Google Health) will emerge and to what extent their APIs will coalesce. I’d love to hear from developers on this, but it would make sense that we’ll get a lot more innovation and competition in applications if the number of distinct APIs they have to support is relatively small.
    - Steve

  4. Dr Bonis says:

    I am a medical doctor. I see patients every day. Including the Emergency Room where I work.
    During thousands years physician have follow this hippocrates oath sencente: What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.
    So at the moment I designed the keyose ( service, I have a very clear idea: privacy must be the priority number one!
    Keyose is the first Anonymous Personal Health Record online, so privacy is guaranteed.
    Read more here:…

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