Google released its online personal health record product called Google Health in 2008. Within a short span, it has reached a large number of users and is has received rave reviews about its new PHR system. Over the course of a year, the company has worked with many healthcare providers and application software companies to integrate with their electronic health records platform. Now, Google Health can pull your medical data from your insurance companies, physicians and hospitals automatically (with your consent, of course) and let you plug-in other health applications into it. With this background, we present our review of this tool based on the following features:
Track Medication and Procedures
Google Health provides options to enter your medications and procedures into the PHR directly. You can also import your records from your health care providers which would save you time and improve accuracy of the data. If you choose to enter the data directly, it provides a nice auto-complete feature that suggests the keyword as you start typing letters. This is a very good feature which would avoid spelling mistakes when you enter difficult-to-remember medical data directly. There is also an option to browse all categories and add them if you don’t remember the name.
Health Risk Monitoring and Preventive Care
This is an area where Google Health lags behind other personal health records providers. If you are looking to receive regular health monitoring alerts such as cholesterol levels, fitness suggestions, body mass index alerts, heart risk measures, and other preventive health care measures, then Web MD offers better features. However, please note that Google does provide options to add third party tools (apps) that provide such features if you really want them, although you will be sharing your data with those companies offering such tools. The tool provides another nice feature called Drug Interactions which checks if there are risks or redundancies associated with the combination of drugs you are taking.
Design and Ease of Use of PHR
Most of the products developed by Google provide a simple, yet elegant interface while offering world class quality. Google’s personal health records is no exception. It has simplistic design and requires little help with the navigational menu. You can access and update your health data in about 2-3 mouse clicks or less.
Store allergy and other conditions
The PHR web service provides options to store your health conditions, allergies, immunization records, test results etc. and in most cases you can imports these records from your health care providers and insurance companies.
Support 3rd party health services
This is a must-have feature if you want to make use of the true potential of modern PHRs. Just like you download apps to an iPhone, you can integrate your PHR with a number of third party health services out there. For example, you can link to MedNotes by Drugs.com which is a free medication management system. By linking to it, you can get notified of any industry recalls or problems with your drugs or be alerted to new medications as they are released. There are many such third party services available if you log into Google Health personal health record system and most of them are free!
Another equally important benefit is the ability to pull your medical records from your primary care providers, insurance companies, pharmacies, laboratories and hospitals. You can link your online personal health records to a number of such health care providers and pull your data instantly. This will save time, centralize your health records in one place, and reduce the errors if you were to enter the data manually. Google has integrated its product with a long list of health care providers such as CVS pharmacy, Walgreens, Medco, Cleveland Clinic, Quest etc. You will also be able to share all or parts of your PHR data with your care givers, hospitals and loved ones. This feature would be useful during emergency and provides care givers a quick and timely access to your medical history.
Google Health is also integrated with few companies that will convert your paper records and import into the tool. For example, you can link to MediConnect and use their services to bring your paper records into the system. Please note that they generally charge for their services.
Update: Google has integrated its platform with MDLiveCare. With the integration of MDLiveCare technology, Google can provide a service that offers patients access to doctors from remote locations, via webcam or telephone, into its personal health record offering. This will be particularly valuable for those who are caring for their loved ones from far away.
In summary, Google health is a top of the line personal health record service which is freely available for personal use. It lacks a couple of features but it makes up