How To Use Google Health, A Digital Health Record
Google Health is a digital personal health record (PHR). It was introduced in May 2007. PHR’s are a way to keep your health information in one record, but the individual is responsible for updating the information.
The use of Google Health is free and enables you to have electronic copies of information such as prescriptions, lab test results, hospital stays, and medical conditions.
Google Health recently introduced a new feature that would allow you to share your online health record with designated persons. These designated persons can include doctors, friends, and family members who might need to know the information. A designated person can be very important in the case of an emergency. That person can gain access to your health record, but not alter it, and provide an update list of medications, allergies, etc to the medical staff.
Since PHR’s are an individual’s record, it is also that individual’s responsibility to keep it updated. There are features with Google Health that will allow you to import your information or change paper records to digital. When you enter the information yourself, there is no fee.
Google Health has also added a graphing feature. This will allow you to enter the lab data of your medical test results, such as cholesterol or glucose levels, and visually track trends. The visual record of the trend might be a good reinforcement of the exercise you have been doing to lower your cholesterol.
Security of these private health records is important. Google has built in measures to preserve privacy. Individual users must choose who can view their medical health records. Individual users can also decide what information they want to share. The persons they chose to allow to view their information may not alter or edit the information. Only the owner of the health record can edit the data.
Google Health allows users to print wallet- and letter-size hard copies of their profile, including medications, allergies, conditions, and treatments. If you update your medications regularly as they are changed, this can be a valuable feature. You will need to print a new copy with the new information.
A "virtual pillbox" feature will also automatically send alerts to your mobile telephones, reminding you when it is time to take medicines. Once again, it is important to update the record of any medication changes.
Anyone concerned with privacy should note that Google Health isn't regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Google also admits that some employees will have access to users' records, but states that these employees have strict rules to follow.
President Obama has made it clear that he plans to make digital health records part of his health care reform agenda.