back to article In Google We Trust: Health docs depo now open to Americans

At long last, Google has asked for America's medical records. This morning, during a dog-and-pony show at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, senior vice president/company poster child Marissa Mayer officially took the wraps off Google Health - a long-awaited/long-dreaded service for storing and sharing your …


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  1. Herby
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    No way!

    While (at times) I trust Google to "do no evil", how can I trust others to do the same. If someone else gets a record (doesn't matter what), and says "we're good", then goes bankrupt (or sold?) to the next guy, are THEY obligated to keep the promise? I remember a case when a company went bankrupt, and the successor company that "bought assets" didn't follow the original companies policies. Users ended up with lots of ads (and a public outcry).

    Unless there is some public policy that protects "my stuff", this isn't going to happen (at least for me!). I suspect others will agree.

    Of course there is "you have no privacy, get over it" which might apply here!

  2. The Wanderer
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    "Google" is not a doctor; "Google" is not even a pharmacist! Isn't recommending a certain medication tantamount to offering professional advice? And if they put up the usual disclaimers, then why am I wasting time with them rather than consulting an honest-to Gaia (or whatever you worship) pharmacist- you know, those nice people with the fancy papers on their walls saying they are TRAINED do this!

    And even with the disclaimers... since they're in it to make money, what happens if they receive a better deal from Pharma A rather than Pharma B to push the newest, and not necessarily the better, choice? Oh, and if my medical institution can't upload the sensitive info... what do I do? Put pressure on them to cut a deal with Google? Come to that, why can't I contact the Heart Association directly for that analysis?

    And if the scheme isn't paying as much as they'd like? That "two year history" and knowing what they're really good at - data mining - can get awfully tempting...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    You first!

    So, how many of the principals, upper management, developers, and security staff of Google, Inc. have uploaded their medical information to Google Health?

    Let me guess: None?

    This is a service that will only be used by total idiots. No one in their right mind will use it.


  4. Pete Dixon

    Health records are a good thing

    I'd vastly prefer my health providers had full information and that there was some serious AI working behind the scenes to provide information of possible medicine conflicts, probable misdiagnoses and a whole host of computationally feasible benefits. Tie in to my DNA? Go for it.

    You guys don't like this don't subscribe to it. Personally I couldn't be more in favour of it.

  5. Chris C

    re: Not.

    "And if they put up the usual disclaimers, then why am I wasting time with them rather than consulting an honest-to Gaia (or whatever you worship) pharmacist"

    Please be advised that your Intarweb 2.0 license has been revoked for failure to follow proper Web 2.0 practices; specifically, for thinking you know more than the Hive Mind; more specifically, for thinking, period. Thinking is not allowed. You do not need to think. The Hive Mind will do the thinking for you. Please remain where you are and an administrator will soon be along to begin your retraining.

  6. G2

    seems they accept from other countries too

    I'm from Eastern Europe and i can access gHealth too... it seems that they don't enforce that US-only restriction...

    the problem is that they only have US-content (hospitals, and so on) and that everything is measured in imperial units (you cannot change to the metric system yet)... so it's more than half unusable at this stage for me.

    They have an interesting section though, if you enter what medications you are taking they have a database that can warn you of possible drug interactions. But in this case you must know the name they list a drug under... for example Ospen or phenoxymethylpenicillin is not listed, but Penicillin V is. And they are the same product, just different names.

  7. Sean O'Connor
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    EULA change?

    And I am sure somewhere burried in the EULA will be the typical language they have the right to change the terms of usage at anytime to include ad targetting and selling of your information to third partys...

    And lets look back on the front page with the number of times Google has handed over personal information without so much as a fight?

    I'll pass.

  8. anarchic-teapot


    Go for a beta service, run by a company and not an officil health organisation? That doesn't have the same legal and ethical constraints as real medical and paramedical staff?


    The UK's National Health database sounds like a good idea, until you see the delays, compatibility problems, and huge budget overruns, it has thrown up. Not to mention the occasional dodgy contractor. And yet, I'd trust it more than Google. In a few years' time. Maybe.


    PS Still that wretched "Cowboy & Cowgirl Dating" ad. I can only assume it's Mountain View that sparks them off. Either that or Google have got a US Reg hack's medical records.

  9. this

    Sounds a little familiar

    Isn't this rather like the NHS IT thing we hear about (on-and-off,when anyone can bear to look at it), costing Billions and with a completion date a perpetually increasing distance into the future? Only in this case with what looks like a certain amount of ownership/control retained by the 'client'. And these guys have cobbled this together for nothing? (I suppose with a few anti-verruca cream adds on the side to help pay for it). Baffling.

  10. Vernon Lloyd

    Do you really think

    That your medical information is safe anyway......naive lot!

    Of course your medical information is not shared within the medical profession whatsoever.......NOT!

    They need to have trends and patterns of illness to find out if there is something sinister brewing.....or to use Bush's and Blairs (and now Browns) excuse of terrorism.

    Someone out there knows or has access to more personal information about you that you know yourself.

  11. Magnus

    Compare that to the NHS Spine though...

    Along the same line as this above I'm thinking about how Google got a working Beta of something similar to the NHS Spine completed as a side project. I also add that I'm far more likely to trust Google with my data than Crapita/EDS/other random govt. contractor.

    It is somewhat depressing when you think about it...

  12. david
    Thumb Up

    @By this

    You got in just before me.

    Except of course you won't be able to choose who sees your NHS records.

    The Public Sector doesn't have a great record in protecting data and it won' t be long before there's a post-it with username and password on every monitor so the cleaners, porters and anyone else can have a peep at your embarrassing condition.

    If you really owned them you might be a bit more circumspect. So what if you have to block the odd pharm add. I drop 100s a day in the bit bucket already that are not aimed at me at all (what do I need with P*nis enlargement?) ;-)

    Why did the NHS sink billions into something Google can come up with for the price of a few m(z)illion clickthroughs? Over ambitious, too many talkers and not enough doers, afraid to upset stakeholders by imposing solutions etc...

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    @Pete Dixon

    Be my guest, log in and put all your medical records online.

    I look forward to viewing them in the article related to Google-security cockups. Who knows, you might become the poster child for demonstrating the evils of trusting a Net corporation that doesn't actually care about you.

    We need a Google icon with horns.

  14. Werner McGoole
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    Er, no thanks

    That's it really.

  15. TrishaD

    Even the NHS...

    Arent proposing to grant citizens access to their own health records using (I assume) a simple userid/password combination, complete with handy 'Have you forgotten your password? Allow us to mail it to you' type link .....

    Yes or no?

    I think I'd rather shoot my fingers off and post the video on Youtube......

    (All other comments relating to the relative speed of rollout and that of the the NHS behemoth are perfectly valid. And depressing....)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NHS records and the Spine

    If PC Plod or a spook turns up at your GP's, spins a yarn needing to see a record to prevent a heinous crime, the correct response from the GP is "F**k off and don't come back without a warrant". Unfortunately more GPs are supine than one might wish for, but with the NHS Spine, GPs, BMA, etc all become irrelevant. Plod and Spooky just hire half a dozen nurses with access and end-run around the law.

    Baffling that anyone could consider trusting Google. Perhaps Brown's brown-nosing of Google is not unrelated to this announcement.

  17. Sean O'Connor
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    I knew it would be in the EULA

    From Google Healths EULA


    9. Changes to this Agreement

    Google may change this agreement and will post the modified agreement at If you do not agree to the modified agreement, you should stop using Google Health. Your continued use of Google Health after the date the modified agreement is posted will constitute your acceptance of the modified agreement.


    The typical we can change this agreement at anytime, its your responsibility to keep checking the page, we wont inform you directly...

    Section 11, warranty, of course absolves them of any wrong doing...

    But of more interest is Section 13 that states in any LEGAL disagreement, you agree to ONLY challenge them in their home County, Santa Clara, California.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @the wanderer

    "pharmacist- you know, those nice people with the fancy papers on their walls saying they are TRAINED do this!"

    erm, don't do much good for all that training when they let religious nutters in there that won't hand out a morning after pill like they're supposed to if they (in their own superior way) feel "it ain't right, you know!"

    you know why

  19. Chris C

    Use for spam?

    I can't believe no one's pointed this out yet, but think of the possibilities for spam. Let's face it, Google's servers aren't exactly uncrackable (is any computer, unless it's hard powered off?), so there *will* be data theft at some point.

    Now let's think about it logically. People's medical records on Google's servers. Medical records including erectile dysfunction and breast augmentation, probably with email addresses, too, but tied into Gmail so you can get their email address once you're in anyway. This is a spammer's goldmine. Imagine capturing that data for actual targeted spamming instead of random spamming.

    And, quite frankly, I imagine it won't just be spammers in the end. I fully expect that Google itself will punt ED and breast enlargement advertisements to people based on their medical records. Oh, sure, they'll say it's not them, it's their advertisers, and they had no idea. And the naive and Google-trusting people will believe it.


    As for Pete "I couldn't be more in favour of it", I'm sure you feel that way now. How will you feel once Google shares your medical records to send you advertisements? What about when they share your medical records with "research" organizations who find that you include the "violence" gene and you're locked up to preemptively protect society? Or when that "research" organization links one of your genes to cancer and your insurance won't cover it if you develop cancer because it's a "pre-existing condition"?

    Google won't do it, because they "do no evil"? Keep telling yourself that.

    Go ahead and call me paranoid. But as they say, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean it's not true. I can't believe some people are actually stupid enough to even consider placing important personal information in the hands of the largest advertising broker on the planet, especially when this broker is under no obligation to protect your information. They could get everyone to sign up for this and upload their medical records, then share those records with the world. What's the worse that'll happen? Since there's no law against it, they may get a stern "please don't do that again".

    I'm not naive enough to think my personal data is somehow private or protected, or that organizations can't get it through various means. But that doesn't mean I'm willing to hand it over myself.

  20. The Wanderer

    @AC 20th May 17:01 GMT and @Chris C


    Probably not, tho' at least they're making a clear (if inexcusable) moral judgment, instead of trying to hide their profit motive behind PR weasel words. And they can still back up their claims of expertise.

    @Chris C.

    Oh, dear, what was I _THINKING_?!?!? Ooops, there I go again. I wonder how long I've got until the Thought Police drag me off to the Ministry of Love and the Dreaded Room 101, which will probably be full of Google PR flacks trying to sell me things.


  21. Headstar

    @ Vernon Lloyd

    >> Of course your medical information is not shared within the medical profession whatsoever.......NOT! <<

    Medical professionals, here in the US, are are required under HIPAA to not disclose PHI (Patient Health Information) to anyone that is not required to know. There are strict penalties for those who disregard this requirement.

    >>Someone out there knows or has access to more personal information about you that you know yourself.<<

    In the states, everyone have the right to request one copy of their own medical record per year at no charge. If you need more than one copy within that year, you are only obligated to pay for the cost associated with producting those records for you.

    IT angle: If a user, lets say a medical professional, by sheer stupidity, emails an associate about your health status and uses any identifiable information that could be traced back to you, the BOFH of the outfit is required to place a retention hold on that email for at least 10 years.

    All in all though, giving Google your PHI is not a very good idea as you essentially give up your rights under HIPAA for good.

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