Nicholas Carr talked a bit on Friday about the Google health URL. And what it really comes down to is a URL much like gmail wherein a person could go to upload their health care history. The idea is to make a persons health care history portable. So if I’m traveling in California and end up in the hospital, I can give them my health URL and they can see my medical history and know if I have allergies or any medical conditions.
In concept it’s a great idea. But do you want Google to have control over your personal health history? I’m not so sure that I do. We really should have a system like this, but I think it would be more accepted if it were administered by an entity that we trust like the government rather than some Corporation.
But the use that I see that I haven’t seen mentioned so far is a “social” health care system coming from it. We currently have many different services that will take our favorite music, books, websites, etc and give us recommendations based on what we’ve already liked. So, if a system like the proposed Google health were to be implemented, why couldn’t we take the information, make it anonymous, and compile it all and use it in a similar way?
Next time I get diagnosed with something, say high blood pressure, I can go to health.google.com and look at all the different remedies that have been used for that ailment. Sorted by order of popularity and effectiveness. I could take that information and discuss it with my doctor. Maybe there’s a remedy that my doctor hasn’t heard of or used before.
If it were to be taken a bit further, you could install small kiosks in each doctor’s office and give them the ability to search for the same information live.
Perhaps the most important use would be for so called “home remedies.” Get a bee sting? Here are the remedies that have worked most effectively for the millions that use google health. Got an ankle sprain? Should you heat it or ice it? Ask google health. You don’t have to take a doctor you don’t know’s word for it. You can see what the huddled medical masses have to say as well.
Would it eliminate misdiagnoses? Not likely. In fact, for some of the more serious ailments, it could actually increase them. But for the less serious ailments like a bee sting or ankle sprain it could eliminate a lot of unnecessary burden on the medical system.
Will it ever happen? Maybe, Maybe not. It’s biggest hurdle would be in gaining the trust of it’s users and potential users. After all, you’re divulging some rather private information. With proper security and anonymous use, it could work quite well.
Time will tell.