Will Google Health's foray be a game changer?
There are more than 30 different personal health records distributed today in the US, with at least 15 or so in serious contention for market share. With this kind of fragmentation, there are substantial challenges to integration.
The industry has responded with high interest to Google, Microsoft and Revolution Health's entrance into the Personal Health Record space. They both bring consumer "neutrality", advanced web technology know-how and are rapidly playing catch-up in the domain.
The privacy aspects of this are significant. Will patients trust Google with their health information?
Google's announcement includes early partnerships with Cleveland Clinic and Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston.
Beth Israel will allow patients to upload their own health record into Google Health. This gives the patient electronic access to their provider's health record and standards-based portability that they control. Significantly, this approach can help resolve a couple of the thornier problems of health information exchange: patient identification and authorization. The patient is able to authenticate to the various HCO's. The patient also now has control over the record and can decide when and with whom it should be exchanged.
The major vendor enterprise clinical systems' advantage has been their tight integration with their own personal health records. In rural areas where there's a dominant Academic Medical Center, or dominant ambulatory vendor clinical system, this advantage will continue to be compelling. In more competitive healthcare environments, that advantage will likely be mitigated by standards-based exchange of health information among heterogenous systems, including mediation through the Personal Health Record.