Because healthcare is about to embark on a major digitization of paper records, lots of new corporate players are positioning themselves to profit from this activity. The latest surprise pairing is Cleveland Clinic and Internet giant Google . Both organizations jointly announced a new collaboration involving online health records that patients can maintain.
Dark Daily previously reported that several online health record services, such as Microsoft Health Vault and Steve Case’s Revolution Health, have popped up with Web-based solutions that give patients more control over their own medical history. Now, Google is making its first entrance into the online health record space.
Google is partnering with nonprofit academic medical center Cleveland Clinic in a pilot program aimed at giving patients control over their online medical records. The company reportedly has “big ambitions” in health care, according to Google’s company blog. Google wants to try and boost its large user base by becoming a destination for health-related information and services.
The program developed by Cleveland Clinic and Google will be opened to 10,000 of Cleveland Clinic’s patients by invitation only. Patients who already use Cleveland Clinic’s personal health record system can securely share medical information—such as prescriptions, conditions, and allergies—between the Cleveland Clinic system and an online health profile offered by Google. Users can access their Google health profile from any computer connected to the Internet. Patients have full control over any information that goes into their profile.
This Cleveland Clinic/Google pilot program is intended to free medical data from electronic medical records (EMRs), thus allowing patients to take their data wherever they go and share it with doctors and pharmacies as they see fit. Online health records stored at Google may help lower health care costs if access to more health information, courtesy of Google, helps consumers make better choices about their healthcare.
The takeaway point here is that unlikely partnerships are forming specifically to give patients a way to manage their health records outside of the traditional healthcare provider environment. Lab directors and pathologists recognize that these patient-directed online health records will need to incorporate laboratory test data if they are to have maximum value to patients and their care team. That’s one reason why Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) announced last February that it was working with Google’s online health record service. In many respects, we may be witnessing a digital gold rush, as a host of companies stake their claims to a place in the digital patient health record marketplace.