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Google Beta Tests Online Health Records, How Safe Will It Be?

According Google on Thursday, Google Inc is testing it's online health storage bank with Cleveland Clinic to test an exchange of medical data..

According Google on Thursday, Google Inc is testing it's online health storage bank with Cleveland Clinic to test an exchange of medical data in an effort to enroll between 1,500 and 10,000 patients in the beta testing. Cleveland Clinic already has an electronic medical records system in place with over 100,000 records.

The way the electronic system works is that it will put users in charge of their own medical records and will allow patients to control and store their records and interact with multiple physicians, health care service providers and pharmacies in a Web-based system on Google computers.

Google states that other possible partners include health insurance company Aetna Inc, Quest Diagnostics a medical testing company, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies, and a number of hospitals.

"The information in your health record is yours and it doesn't get shared with anyone else without your permission," states Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt.

Google plans to make money off of the project by selling online related advertisements. According to the search giant, the majority of their searches are health related.

You may have the same questions like others concerned: what about solicitations and logins? How will solicitations be handled and how to prevent them? Will the health records database be tied into the same Google login and will an extra security layer be added? Possibly, Google will be addressing these issues in the coming weeks during their initial testing.

In related news, Microsoft beat Google to the online health records system in 2007 which is called "HealthVault". With their system, you can import health records from your doctors, hospitals, labs, prescription drug plans, and other healthcare providers. Users can also type them in, or upload data from personal health monitoring devices such as glucose or blood-pressure monitors and more. Microsoft's HealthVault requires both a Windows Live ID and a HealthVault account and require complex passwords. As similar to what Google stated regarding online advertisements, Microsoft makes money through health-related search ads, but doesn't target ads based on personal data from an individuals stored medical record. In addition, no one has access to your health records unless you specifically grant them permission.

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