I recently had to go to the doctor for a recurrence of a health problem that I had had some 20 years ago. My original doctor has since retired so this doc was a new one. In preparation for that first appointment, I was asked to get my old records from the doctor who helped me all those years ago and any recent medical records pertaining to the condition. Since doctors keep the same hours I do, this meant I had to take a couple of afternoons off work to go scrounging around for my records.

In addition to that, since the first doctor had retired, I had to find a way to get my medical records from him. I looked in the phone book. No luck. I Googled him. No luck. And because I have a memory like a sieve, my medical details, for all intents and purposes, were lost forever.

My situation came to mind when I read today about Google Health. Here’s the description of the site, according to ZDNet.co.uk:

The site, which is currently available for healthcare purposes in the US only, is a personal portal that can be used to upload, store and view personal information; retrieve records from partners; investigate health matters; set alerts such as a reminder to take medication; and run applications that can, for example, keep track of how many miles a person has walked.

Personal Health Records are not new. In fact, there are already many standards, open specifications, and efforts toward standardization of PHR information, and services. But Google claims its service will be different from those others in three ways:

  1. Privacy — Their privacy policy and practices have been developed in thoughtful collaboration with experts from the Google Health Advisory Council.
  2. Platform — Google Health lets you automatically import information such as your doctors’ records, your prescription history, and your test results into Google Health to easily access and control your data.
  3. Portability — You can access and have control over your health data from anywhere. (For people who travel a lot.)

I don’t really understand how anyone could pull something like this off in the world of HIPAA, but it sounds like it would be a timesaver.

What do you think?