So, in the next few days, you’ll have to be under a technical rock to not know that Google has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic on medical records access for patients and care providers.
I imagine that a lot of the reaction that I’ll be seeing in my aggregator will be a lot like Fred Stutzman — because I tend to surround my aggregator with folks that think like Fred. I always respect Fred’s viewpoints and I almost universally agree with Fred on his viewpoints on things.
But not this time.
Now, I really do think that Fred has some very good talking points. And normally, I’d be all up in arms about the privacy implications of this.
But not this time.
(conflict of interest alert — I own a whopping 2 shares of Google stock)
Admittedly, maybe it’s that I’m not passionately concerned about the strict privacy of my medical records themselves. Maybe it’s because I’m southern, and we’ll talk about our ailments with strangers like most of America talks about the weather. I am passionate about protecting privacy though in general, so I don’t think that’s it.
So what I think it is is that the state of the medical records today is garbage and Google getting into this can only make things better.
I know that my dentist makes pretty good use of information technology — in fact, the best I’ve seen. Their patient records system is available from the receptionist’s desk, to the hygienist, to the dentist themselves.
But it’s a vertical, closed system. Running on Windows. I think on XP, but it might have still been Windows 2000. And they were the most advanced I’ve seen.
I’ve got glimpses of the billing records system at my primary care physician. Enough to know how poor it seemed to be. And that’s billing, I think all my patient records are still on paper there. And I think they had to fax it back and forth between them and the specialist I saw early last year. And in theory, a x-ray I had was in electronic form, but that was only shared with them and the primary care physician.
The summary statement — the state of my records is likely incredibly poor. Incomplete items, various paper copies in multiple places. And I have none of them.
With a company like Google getting into this (or even, honestly Microsoft, even though they have yet to show that they have the faintest clue about building an online service for this sort of thing) — it can’t go anywhere but up. While the privacy implications of the text comments and images, and medical terms associated with them being all wrapped up in my gmail, and search history, website analytics is certainly something to watch, at least I have the faintest glimmer of hope of finally having full access to my records, using modern systems and modern architectures, built by developers that have at least shown a far greater clue about systems design and usability than almost all vertical integrators and medical software companies whose software I’ve seen.
I would have a greater hope that I would be able to access my records, to audit their use, and at least figure out what and who is doing with them (outside Google).
This revolution can’t come soon enough.