Google Health was a personal health information centralization service (sometimes known as personal health record services) by Google introduced in 2008 and discontinued in 2011. The service allowed Google users to volunteer their health records – either manually or by logging into their accounts at partnered health services providers – into the Google Health system, thereby merging potentially separate health records into one centralized Google Health profile.
Volunteered information could include "health conditions, medications, allergies, and lab results". Once entered, Google Health used the information to provide the user with a merged health record, information on conditions, and possible interactions between drugs, conditions, and allergies. Google Health's API was based on a subset of the Continuity of Care Record.
Google Health was under development from mid-2006. In 2008, the service underwent a two-month pilot test with 1,600 patients of The Cleveland Clinic. Starting on May 20, 2008, Google Health was released to the general public as a service in beta test stage.
On September 15, 2010 Google updated Google Health with a new look and feel.
On June 24, 2011 Google announced it was retiring Google Health in January 1, 2012; data was available for download through January 1, 2013. The reason Google gave for abandoning the project was the lack of widespread adoption.
Google Health, like many other Google products, was free to use for consumers. Unlike other Google services, however, Health contained no advertising. Google did not reveal how it planned to make money with the service, but a Wall Street Journal article said that Google "hasn't ruled [advertising] out for the future." Google has filed U.S. Patent Application #20070282632, "Method and apparatus for serving advertisements in an electronic medical record system".
Google Health could import medical and/or drug prescription information from the following partners: Allscripts, Anvita Health, The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, The Cleveland Clinic, CVS Caremark, Drugs.com, Healthgrades, Longs Drugs, Medco Health Solutions, Quest Diagnostics, RxAmerica, and Walgreens.
Users whose health records reside with other providers had to either manually enter their data or pay to have a Google Health partner perform the service. MediConnect Global was one such partner; for a fee, they would retrieve a user's medical records from around the world and add them to his or her profile.
Recently,[when?] in response to demand for added convenience, Google Health began establishing relationships with telehealth providers that will allow their users to sync the data shared during telehealth consultations with their online health records. To date, partnerships have been formed with the following companies: MDLiveCare and Hello Health.
Google Health was an opt-in service, meaning it could only access medical information volunteered by individuals. It did not retrieve any part of a person's medical records without his or her explicit consent and action. However, it did encourage users to set up profiles for other individuals.
According to its Terms of Service, Google Health is not considered a "covered entity" under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996; thus, HIPAA privacy laws do not apply to it.
In an article covering Google Health's launch, the New York Times discussed privacy issues and said that "patients apparently did not shun the Google health records because of qualms that their personal health information might not be secure if held by a large technology company." Others contend that Google Health may be more private than the current "paper" health record system because of reduced human interaction.
Post-launch reactions to Google's stance that it was not a covered entity varied. Some were very negative, such as those of Nathan McFeters at ZDNet. Others, including Free/Open Source Software Healthcare activist Fred Trotter, argued that a personal health record service like Google Health would be impossible if it were HIPAA covered.
Google Health is a personal health record (PHR) service whose primary competitors in the United States are Microsoft's HealthVault, Dossia, and the open-source Indivo project. There are numerous other open-source and proprietary PHR systems, including those that compete outside the United States.
On July 18, 2011, Microsoft released a tool that lets Google Health customers transfer their personal health information to a Microsoft HealthVault account.
On June 24, 2011, Google announced that Google Health would be discontinued. Google stated that they were discontinuing Google Health because it did not have as broad impact as had been expected:
|“||... with a few years of experience, we’ve observed that Google Health is not having the broad impact that we hoped it would.||”|
|— From The Official Google Blog|