Check out Google CEO Eric Schmidt's keynote presentation at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference (see the video below). He makes the argument for Google harnessing its search platform for dealing with the major inefficiencies and ills of the healthcare system.
The first principle, "It's the consumers data," Schmidt said. "Users can access the data and can control who can see it." And, because the data is in the cloud, it can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
With both Google and Microsoft, with its HealthVault, investing heavily in gaining converts to their respective health initiatives, progress will be made, especially if the two platforms interoperate. The two companies have not ruled out cooperation, according to BusinessWeek.
The obvious issues of maintaining privacy and security are problematic at this point, but the cost of not using the Web as a platform to attack a myriad of healthcare industry issues, including electronic health records, is far too high.
Schmidt compared the future acceptance of electronic health records to how people have become comfortable placing their credit cards online. A comfort-level will be reached over time, based on what we have seen in the first decade of the consumer Internet, but a breach of health records data is going to be far more polarizing, and a deterrent to progress, than leaked credit card or social security numbers.
One of the concerns expressed is having for-profit, private companies that generate revenue from data mining storing health records. For Google and Microsoft to be successful in this arena, they will have to demonstrate that they can be trusted, which will be a difficult task, with such highly personal data.
The two giants understand that they are in a marathon, not a sprint, to bring healthcare fully into the Internet age. Government, the healthcare industry and the private sector participants will have to come up a plan and architecture that consumers believe is totally protective of their personal data.
And, I would still like to know what Schmidt thinks about the recent downward trend in paid search clicks and if he believes that a Microsoft-Yahoo combo would result in monopolistic practices.