Google announced today that it has begun storing patient records for a few thousand individuals at Cleveland Clinic. These health records will include prescription information, allergies and medical histories and will be protected through a password-based system, which will also allow patients to have access to Google email and search tools.
The key reason for Google’s entry in the space is to expand its search capabilities, moving beyond public environments (searching on the net) to more private situations. While it is not entirely clear how Google plans to make money from its health service, its strategy of providing more searches through its technology is always the company’s first focus.
Not surprisingly, others have also joined the fray including Microsoft, through its HealthVault and AOL founder Steve Case through Revolution Health. Yet, the key issue for many privacy groups is that much of this information is not covered by HIPPA, which potentially opens to door for these companies to utilize the information for other purposes, beyond simple private access by patients to their own information.