Very recently, Google came out with yet another new product, Google Health. Essentially, it’s a Google-flavored Personal Health Record (PHR) that goes just a step beyond the rest with integration, alerts, and useful content. Despite its status as a new product, early adopters have already found many ways to put it to work, and we’ve highlighted them here. Read on to see what Google Health can do for you.
Although Google’s integration with doctors is limited to just a few right now, the potential for greatness exists as more health providers sign on as partners. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the existing features at work.
- Ask to have your records transferred: With a Google personal health record, you can create a database of information on your own health that can follow you wherever you’d like it to.
- Keep your doctor more informed: Send your doctor information from other doctors and specialists you’ve seen, and they’ll have a better view of your medical history, which can cut down on mistakes and adverse drug reactions.
- Change your profile name to your real name: If you’re planning on printing your profile out for a health care provider, you’ll want your real name on it so it can be easily identified.
- Understand your doctor: By checking out documentation about a condition or symptom online, you can better understand what your doctor is talking about during your visit.
- Get a second opinion: By having better control of your health records, it’s easier to share information with a second doctor or specialist.
- Cut down on paperwork: Using Google Health’s records, you can avoid having to fill out new paperwork for each doctor you visit.
Google’s mission is to wrangle the world’s information, and they do a great job of it here. These are just a few of the applications Google Health offers.
- Research your conditions: Look up conditions and symptoms in Google Health’s encyclopedia, and you’ll see loads of information and illustrations.
- Don’t delete important information: Although some health records may reveal conditions you’d rather hide, it’s important that you leave them intact so that health providers have a clear view of your medical history.
- Check out news about your conditions: As new developments come out, you’ll be able to get updates on treatments and other helpful information for your conditions.
- Find out what your doctor needs to know: By researching conditions on Google Health, you can find out if there is a need for you to record symptoms, activities or diet before you visit the doctor’s office for treatment.
- Read articles from Google Scholar: Google Health uses Google Scholar to offer top-notch research information from leading universities.
- Use it for research data: Google Health’s information isn’t just good for patients-it’s great for students and businesspeople doing research on conditions.
- Ask the right questions: With Google Health research, you can find out what questions to ask your doctor so that you’ll get better care and discussion.
For people on multiple medications, Google Health is an especially useful tool, as it offers a handy dashboard that organizes all of the drugs you take. Here are a few more things it can do.
- Import your prescriptions: By importing your prescription list from pharmacies like Walgreen’s and Longs Drugs, you’ll be able to have a handy record of everything you’re taking.
- Get medication alerts: With Google Health, you can see drug interactions and notices based on what you’re taking.
- Keep portable records of package inserts: Don’t bother hanging on to a bunch of different package inserts– you’ll be able to get access to them on Google Health.
- Share access with your pharmacy: Allow your pharmacy to see your medical history, and they’ll be alerted to allergies and other drugs that could have adverse interactions.
- Enter supplements, too: Don’t stop with traditional prescriptions, keep track of your vitamins and supplements as well. This is an excellent tool, as you’ll be alerted to possible interactions with other drugs that might not be caught if you don’t mention supplement usage to your doctor.
- Track dosages: Take a look at how long and how much of a drug you’ve been using so you’ll have information to use when discussing dosages with your doctor.
- Get refills online: If your pharmacy is partnered with Google Health, you can use the system to set up a refill.
- Set medication reminders: Sign up to get alerts sent to your mobile phone that will remind you when it’s time to take a medication, so you’ll never miss a thing.
- Stay on top of refills: Use Google Health to track when your refills run out so that you’ll have ample time to talk to your doctor and pharmacy.
Convenience & Organization
With Google Health, all of your medical information is in one easy to manage, convenient spot. These are just a few of the ways this Google tools can help make your life easier.
- Create a profile for your family: Google Health offers the option to create profiles for a number of different people, so you can stay on top of your entire family’s health from one dashboard.
- Cut down on lab tests: Use Google Health to show your doctor the results of lab tests, and you won’t have to take them over again.
- Easily disclose pre-existing conditions: If asked to provide a list of conditions by your doctor or insurance company, you can quickly and easily provide those records from Google Health.
- Back up your paper copies: Even if your doctor hasn’t integrated with Google Health, it’s a great tool to use for keeping your records safe in case of fire. Better yet, putting them online means they’ll be accessible anywhere there’s an Internet connection, a use that could come in handy in case of an emergency.
- Get test results quick: Find out about test results through Quest Diagnostics’ partnership with Google Health.
- Check vaccinations before going overseas: Using Google Health, you can compare the vaccinations you have to those that are recommended for the country you’re visiting.
- Get reminded when vaccinations expire: Some vaccinations and immunizations are good for life, while others need maintenance. Google Health can help you stay on top of the ones that need to be updated by providing alerts when they expire.
- Integrate with other Google services: When you create a contact in Google Health, you’ll also have that person or doctor added to your Gmail account.
- Search for and locate doctors in your area: Google Health makes it easy to research doctors and get the information you need as a patient.
- Keep an handy list of medical contacts: With Google Health, you’ll never lose your doctor’s number when you need it the most. It offers a medical contacts list, so the information you need is easy to find.
- Enter information on vacation: If you get sick while you’re away, you can enter treatments and conditions that pop up so that you’ll have all of the information your doctor at home might need when you get back.
- Keep a schedule for medications: If you tend to forget when you’re supposed to take your prescription, Google Health’s Medications Organizer makes it easy to stay on top of everything.
- Enter emergency contacts: Add your emergency contacts so that they can be contacted by your health care provider in case of emergency.
Google’s excellent health tool is not without its drawbacks. Many are concerned about privacy issues, and while some discussions have little foundation, there are a few things to be vigilant about.
- Be aware that you’re leaving a trail: If you ever get into a dispute about pre-existing conditions with your health insurance, you could be storing all of the evidence the company needs in your Google Health account. With that said, however, Google does promise that you can permanently delete data at any time.
- Create an alias: If you’re concerned about linking your identity to your health records, just create an account without any personally identifying information.
- Warning: Don’t use Google Health, and here’s why…: This resource discusses a number of reasons not to trust Google Health with your heath data.
- Be careful who you share your login with: Now that your health records are just a few clicks away, you should be even more vigilant about keeping your user name and password private, with frequent changes to very strong passwords.
- Google Health and HIPAA: Some are concerned that Google is not covered by HIPAA protection, although by law they are not required to be. Check out this chart that compares the privacy of Google Health against HIPAA’s requirements.
- Always sign out: Once you’re signed into Google Health or other Google products, your browser will allow access as long as you keep that window open, so be sure to always sign out to prevent others from accessing your account.
Through some of Google’s service partners, you can link your profile to get even more functionality. As we’ve discussed, it’s always important to read the fine print when signing up with these services, as they do not have the same privacy standards that Google Health promises.
- Cleveland Clinic MyConsult: Using this service from Google Health partner Cleveland Clinic, you can get online consultation with Cleveland Clinic physicians, who can offer second opinions, pre-adoption, and nutrition consultations.
- iHealth: With iHealth, you can improve the communication between you and your doctor by importing your data from Google Health to their service that records your medical information. This is especially helpful for users whose patients have not yet partnered with Google Health.
- MCT-Diabetes: MyCareTeam’s diabetes monitoring tool offers an easy and helpful way to stay on top of your disease.
- Heart Attack Risk Calculator: Heart attacks can be tragic and even deadly, so it’s important that you do everything you can to prevent yourself from having one. With this service from the American Heart Association, you can share information from Google Health to learn if you’re at risk, and take action to protect yourself before it’s too late.
- ePillBox.info: With this free web application, you can take information from your Google Health profile and turn it into a convenient medication schedule.
- MyDailyApple: With this search service, you can get relevant information from news, blogs, and medical research sent to you based on your Google Health profile.
- Join Go for Good: This walking program integrates with Google Health and gives you access to walking videos from Cleveland Clinic.
- Lifestar: If you’d like to be able to share information from your Google Health profile with your decidedly offline doctor, family, or caregiver, use Lifestar’s service to create printable or exportable records of your health history.
- MyMedicalRecords: Store your Google Health profile information in this personal health record, and you can have it made available to doctors in case of emergency.
- HxTI VaccineView: Are your vaccines up to the guidelines set by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Use this service from HxTechnologies to compare the vaccines you’ve received with the CDC’s recommendations.
- NoMoreClipbard: By linking your Google Health profile to a NoMoreClipboard account, you’ll make it easier to have your records sent to your doctor, or even let a loved one access them in an emergency.
- MediConnect Global: If you’re having a hard time locating all of your medical records, sign up with this service that will retrieve them from around the world and import them into your Google Health profile.
- yourHealth by UNIVAL: Are you having a hard time figuring out the words and bad handwriting on your medical records? Fax them to UNIVAL, and they’ll have expert nurses who know how to read them convert your records into a Google Health-importable format.
- Livestrong.com Health Center: If you’d like to learn more about your health, sign up with this service to get news and content based on information you have in your Google Health profile.
These are just a few of the features you can hope for and expect to see in the future from Google Health.
- Schedule appointments: In the future, Google plans to make online scheduling part of their online integration with doctors and other health care providers.
- Community: Although there’s been no word from Google, some speculate that you could be connected with others who have similar conditions through Google Health, and it doesn’t sound like a stretch of the imagination.
- Genetics integration: It is mainly a joke at this point, but many speculate that Google may pair up with a DNA service company they’ve backed called 23andme.
- Aggregated data: Once adoption takes off, Google plans to offer unscientific research data, such as how many diabetic patients received flu shots.
For further reading, check out these guides that offer a look at what to do with Google Health.