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Google has another go at patient health record software

Google is reportedly making inroads toward creating a patient health record tool.  

According to STAT’s Erin Brodwin, the company is recruiting patients to weigh in on how they want to access their own medical record data – potentially to help shape user-facing software.   

“Google is running a user feedback program to test features that give users the ability to collect health information from their provider patient portals, organize, search and share it with the people they trust in a private and secure manner,” said a Google spokesperson in response to a request for comment from Healthcare IT News.   

WHY IT MATTERS  

The moves follow the implementation of federal information blocking rules, which officially went into effect on April 5 and which should allow patients readier access to their medical records.   

As Brodwin notes, this could potentially open the floor to more tools enabling users to control their health data.

At this point, Google is reportedly recruiting about 300 Android users from Epic-using health systems in Atlanta, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area for its study. The company is using available APIs to help participants connect to information in provider portals.

The study is not connected to its clinical or health research initiatives and is not an open program at this point. The company is not currently considering testing or usage outside the United States.

According to Google, the health information will not be used for advertising purposes.  

THE LARGER TREND

A decade has passed since the Mountain View, California-based tech giant shut down its first personal health record go-round, Google Health. (Not to be confused with the Google Health vertical in its current incarnation.)  

As we reported at the time, the attempt failed to catch on – users in those early days apparently uninterested in incorporating personal health-and-wellness information into their daily lives.  

In the years since, personal health records and patient portals have often continued to be a tough sell (as another consumer tech titan, Microsoft, found with its HealthVault software).  

But Google is betting that the broad availability of wearables and other opportunities for patient-generated data may signal a more fertile market for users’ investment in their own health data this time around.   

Additionally, Google’s competitor Apple has its own records app aggregating EHR data with patient-generated information, which it launched in 2018. That feature went international in October of this past year.

And in 2019, Google demoed its EHR-adjacent clinical documentation tool, which aimed to make it easier for doctors to search for a variety of metrics and notes across patient charts.

ON THE RECORD  

“We know that people who have access to and understand information about their health can make better decisions and have better health outcomes,” said the Google spokesperson.

“This feedback program will help us learn how this type of information can empower people and help them take control of their health,” they added.

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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