Google, Microsoft Venture Into World of Personal Health Databases

This winter, Google began storing the medical records of volunteer patients of the Cleveland Clinic. The beta test follows pilots of Microsoft's answer to patient-controlled online databases – HealthVault – and solutions introductions by small players.

While most patients and their health care providers still account for prescriptions, medical histories and allergic reactions on paper, consumers of all ages are interested in online databases, managing outsider access and feeding them with personal health records.

"With remote storage and Web access to medical records, it's a lot easier to keep track of a patient's health history," said Christy Goldfeder, a health coach in New York. "The old paper-file way isn't very effective. If you don't see your doctor for a few years, your file ends up forgotten in some storage facility."

For consumers who feel fit and forgo regular doctor's visits but need to summon their full medical profiles in a pinch, password-protected, online health-records management is an answer. For Google, a consumer-directed database is a natural extension of an innovative data-search tool and puts personal information in the same location ailing patients visit for details on diagnoses and medical conditions.

Goldfeder said consumers are comfortable exercising control over their health data and taking responsibility for keeping the database accurate and up-to-date. "As long as they understand that their records are highly secure, encrypted information, I think they would be fine with it," she said.

Wendy Angst, general manager of CapMed in Newtown, Pa., markets personal health records (PHR)…



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