Swap Health Records with Google, Family, Friends

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has released a new feature for their Google Health service that allows users to share their online health records with specified friends, doctors and family members.

Google Health is a service that allows users to input their medical data into an online system. The system merges all separate records into one centralized account for the user. Since it uses the Internet to collect data, Google Health also gathers information on medical conditions and interactions between drugs and allergies. (Source: twine.com)

Google Health for Friends and Family

Before the feature was introduced, only the user was allowed to access their own records. Now, Google is changing their policies to accommodate family and friends as well.

The change comes as a result of the fact that some people keep their medical conditions and prescriptions a secret, never divulging important information (like what medication they are using) to friends and family members. These important people are then left without an answer if the patient is involved in an emergency situation and is unable to answer such personal medical questions for themselves.

The format for the new feature is simple: a quick message by the user to a specified individual explaining that a Google Health profile has been shared with them (the identity of the individual remains anonymous until the email is opened). The user then clicks on the people whom they have selected from a contacts list.

Interestingly enough, Google restricts the usability of the emailed link to 30 days. If the person does not open or accept the shared profile, the link will become inactive.

Privacy is the Best Policy

Creating a lifespan for the emailed link is just one of the many privacy settings Google has adopted for their new service. Other security features include allowing only the user to choose who can view their medical history, while the profile will only work in connection with those email accounts specified by the user. That means that the emailed link will not work if it is forwarded to a third party or an external source.

Also, those people selected by the user to view their profile are unable to edit, change or manipulate the data in any way. The user will be able to see exactly who has reviewed their profile, though Google did admit that their employees would have access to most of the health records kept on file.

Print-Ready Feature

For those that want to keep their medical history private, but understand the importance of having their data documented in case of an emergency, there is a print-ready feature that allows users to print their own wallet and letter-sized hard copies of the profiles. (Source: cnet.com)

Still, Google reminds those who hold a printed document of their profile to keep their records up-to-date to avoid any problems in the future.

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