Google to begin hosting patient records

SAN FRANCISCO Google has announced that it will begin storing medical records of anywhere from 1,500 to 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic, according to Associated Press. The patients will volunteer to have their personal health records electronically transferred.

Each health profile, including information about prescriptions, allergies and medical histories, will be protected by a password that’s also required to use other Google services such as e-mail and personalized search tools.

The clinic already keeps the personal health records of more than 120,000 patients on its own online service called MyChart. Patients who transfer the information to Google would still be able to get the data quickly even if the Cleveland Clinic was no longer treating them. “We believe patients should be able to easily access and manage their own health information,” Marissa Mayer, a Google executive overseeing the project, said in a statement supplied by the Cleveland Clinic.

The problem with this is the service isn’t restricted by HIPPA. This means that a patient who agrees to transfer medical records to an external health service run by Google or Microsoft, who introduced a similar program last year called HealthVault, could be unwittingly making it easier for the government or some other legal adversary to obtain the information.

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