Google Health, codename “Weaver”, is Google’s planned health information storage program. Google’s Vice President of Engineering Adam Bosworth lobbies for the program for quite a while now. Adam said the current US health care system is challenged when it comes to “supporting caregivers and communicating between different medical organizations.” Adam went on to say that people “need the medical information that is out there and available to be organized and made accessible to all ... Health information should be easier to access and organize, especially in ways that make it as simple as possible to find the information that is most relevant to a specific patient’s needs.” Adam adds that this – making information accessible – happens to be along Google’s mission.
The New York Times today writes that “about 20 percent of the [US] patient population have computerized records – rather than paper ones – and the Bush administration has pushed the health care industry to speed up the switch to electronic formats. But these records still tend to be controlled by doctors, hospitals or insurers. A patient moves to another state, for example, but the record usually stays.” But, the NYT continues, initiatives like the one by Google “would give much more control to individuals, a trend many health experts see as inevitable.” A prototype of Google Health has now been shown “to health professionals and advisers,” the NYT reports.
To find out just what you might be able to see in a future Google Health service, take a look at these screenshots from Google’s prototype which have been sent in here. As prototypes go, certain approaches of the program may change, and the specific interface may or may not be kept like this in a final release. “We’ll make mistakes and it will be a long-range march,” the NYT quotes Adam Bosworth.
There are two tabs to be seen in Google Health: Profiles and Medical Contacts. The profiles tab has several sub-sections, including “Services and health guide,” “Conditions & symptoms,” “Medications,” “Age, sex, height...” and “Family history.”
This “Conditions & symptoms” dialog includes an auto-completion feature, just like other input boxes in Google Health. You enter “head”, and Google suggests “Head and Neck Angioedema”, “Head Injury”, “Head Pain” and more.
The “Services and health guide” section reads: “Get the most out of Google Health - If your medical providers or pharmacy offer secure downloading of medical records, you can find and add your records to a profile. You can also browse for websites that connect securely to Google Health and provide services for managing your health care.”
Under the headline “Google health guide” this explanation follows: “When you add some information to your profile, Google Health will search trusted medical sources and create a health guide targeted for you. ... Google Health will check for relevant updates to your guide whenever you add new information to the profile.” You can use the health guide, Google writes, to learn about drug interactions, treatments, tests and preventive measures.
A side box warns, “Be sure to discuss questions about your medical care with your doctor or medical provider before making changes,” and a footnote reads, “Built in collaboration with www.safe-med.com”.
The “Add an immunication” interface does not allow free-style text input, but restricts you to a selection box instead. Available entries include “Diphtheria, tetanus toxoids, acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP)” or “Hepatitis A vaccine.”
The “Age, sex, height...” page collects various personal information such as date of birth, gender, ethnicity, blood type, weight, or smoking habits. One of the questions asked is, “Do you drink alcoholic beverages?” Another question is, “Have you smoked more than 20 cigarettes in your lifetime?” Google explains that they ask for your date of birth to “keep your age up to date and show the most relevant guidance.”
The “Family history” dialog lets you add a relative and their respective conditions. The selection box includes entries like “Husband”, “Wife”, “Mother”, “Father”, “Son”, and Google provides the condition example “diabetes.”