Google Health - public benefit or private menace?


I've been a health care wanderer, moving from doctor to doctor as my HMOs and personal taste dictate. Along the way, my medical records have ended up strewn through many different offices, and because I can't remember who did what to me and when, my current doc has to retread already trodden ground. This is the problem for which Google developed its now-available service, Google Health.

Google Health is an online site on which you can compile your medical history, so that in the future it is available when needed for continuity of care. The upside, obviously, is that in the case of a heart attack, no matter where you might be the medical staff can access your data and thereby provide the most appropriate care.

While this seems like a useful service, I wonder about the potential for its misuse. Google, in its waiver, states "I understand and agree that in addition to the information I choose to share, Google may only share information in the limited circumstances described in the Google Health Privacy Policy." Note this privacy is not guaranteed by law, but by the company's policy. Policies can change.

The more likely problem, though, will come when you authorize an entity, such as your doctor's office, to access your records. Who knows what employees might abuse that privilege? Also, if you have something in your records of interest to the law, this could be an easy way for them to access it.

For Google, and its competitors in this market, this program has great income potential, in directed advertising, referrals, and health care product sales offers. This is of such value that I don't believe getting it for free is enough; Google should pay me to use it, imho. I could use the money to pay my medical bills.