Feeds

Google eyes Cleveland medical records

World Privacy Forum howls

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Google's efforts to engulf the world's medical records will begin in Cleveland.

Today, the search engine cum world power announced a joint project with the Cleveland Clinic, an 87-year-old not-for-profit medical center, that will see between 1,500 and 10,000 of the center's patients entrust their personal records to Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Yes, between 1,500 and 10,000. Presumably, Google and the Cleveland Clinic anticipate that a few thousand patients will ultimately decide this idea is way too creepy.

In any event, the project marks the debut of a long-awaited/long-dreaded online health service from the Mountain View, California web giant. Google has previously said that this store-your-medical-records offering would be available to the general public sometime in 2008.

Similar services are already available from arch-rival Microsoft and a startup known as Revolution Health, backed by AOL co-founder Steve Case.

Google bills its password-protected service as "a new kind of healthcare experience that puts the patient in charge of his or her own health information." The Cleveland Clinic already stores patient records on an in-house database, and it will soon give a chosen few the opportunity to move their records onto Google's servers, including information regarding medical conditions, allergies, and prescriptions.

Naturally, this will allow these patients to quickly access their Cleveland Clinic records whenever they spy an internet connection. But Google envisions a time when its service allows any brave soul to shuttle records to and from multiple doctors, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers.

Yes, many will be reluctant to share their records with a company that already stores their search histories and indexes their email. But patient privacy would be an issue even if Google was a piddly startup.

It just so happens that yesterday, as word of Google's Cleveland Clinic partnership spilled forth from The Associated Press, the World Privacy Forum released a report (PDF) explaining that health records hosters like Google aren't covered by the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In other words, the laws that govern what doctors can do with a patient's medical records wouldn't apply to Larry Page and Sergey Brin. "Because of the structure of HIPAA, its privacy protections do not generally follow a health record," the report says. "The basic idea is that if a health care provider (hospital, physician, pharmacist, etc.) or a health plan maintains a health record, the record is protected under HIPAA. However, if a person of business is not a covered entity under HIPAA holds the records, then HIPAA does not apply."

When we asked Google to discuss its health service, it said: "We'll get back to you." ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.