Google enters personal health record market

Advocates are hopeful this product will increase PHR adoption.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted June 9, 2008

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Internet giant Google officially entered the personal health record market last month with the public launch of Google Health.

Google joins Microsoft, which last fall launched HealthVault, as major technology companies that have gotten into the PHR business.

Industry analysts are busy trying to compare Google Health with HealthVault. Google gets high marks for a health-focused search engine linked to the PHR and for its more structured organization of data. Microsoft gets the nod for its more stringent privacy guidelines.

At last month's Towards the Electronic Patient Record conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., James Mault, MD, director of new products and business development for the Health Solutions Group at Microsoft, demonstrated HealthVault while David Kibbe, MD, senior adviser to the American Academy of Family Physicians, displayed Google Health. Google was invited to attend, but its May 21 announcement conflicted.

Dr. Mault thinks there is good reason for the two products to co-exist and welcomes the opportunity to explore interoperability with Google, which would likely result in wider use of PHRs.

Dr. Kibbe agreed that consumers would have a great advantage if the two systems could talk to each other.

A Google spokesperson did not address this topic directly but told AMNews that the company will make changes based on "user and partner feedback."

In a separate announcement, a health care IT company founded by the AMA and other medical societies said it will integrate with Google Health. Medem said its iHealth suite of medical practice Web sites and secure patient e-mail systems will interconnect with Google Health to further the company's goal of improving physician-patient communication.

Mary Ellen Zipper, RN, director of client relations for Newtown, Pa.-based CapMed, the PHR division of Bio-Imaging Technologies, said she doesn't view Google or Microsoft as competitors, but rather partners who will help drive use of CapMed's system.

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