Google and Electronic Medical Records
Written by Naoum Issa, MD, PhD   

Rumor has it that Google is entering the EMR business.

Rumor also has Microsoft entering the EMR business.

Well, not really rumor, but the New York Times.

Putting the patient in control of their own medical records through digital media and distant storage seems a daunting task. Certainly unthinkable for a bureaucracy the size of the US government, but perhaps the whiz kids at GOOG and MSFT can get it right.

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Their track record is pretty impressive - for the last 20 years Microscoft products have arguably been at the center of consistent increases in US productivity, while Google has turned the internet into its own personal cash (cache) machine.

Given Google's goal of "organizing all information" it's not surprising they're tackling electronic medical records. It's a huge data set waiting to be mined - assuming that Google has no compunctions about compiling and sifting through that information to produce much more accurate epidemiological studies (or is that "to better target advertising to the health care consumer?").

Philipp Lenssen has compiled  on his blog some early screen shots of "Google Health," apparently codenamed Weaver (perhaps for the weaver mouse mutant?).

Obviously Google has a host of resource to bring to bear on this product - not just financial and technical know-how, but access to health information, advertisers, and huge databases of user search requests and pages.

There are many, many questions waiting for the alpha release - how easily can it be used? Will physicians and patients both want to use it? Will they provide an API for developers to build add-on products? What is their revenue model? Will the darned thing work at all? And many more.

If Google's and Microsoft's histories are predictive of the future, the EMR scene is about to embark on a wild ride. Let's hope, for real this time, that they can adhere to Google's corporate motto: "don't be evil."

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