Google to Store Patient Health Records

Google continues its quest to take over the world with a new program to store health records online.

Google Inc. will begin storing the medical records of a few thousand people as it tests a long-awaited health service that’s likely to raise more concerns about the volume of sensitive information entrusted to the Internet search leader.

The pilot project to be announced Thursday will involve 1,500 to 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic who volunteered to an electronic transfer of their personal health records so they can be retrieved through Google’s new service, which won’t be open to the general public. Each health profile, including information about prescriptions, allergies and medical histories, will be protected by a password that’s also required to use other Google services such as e-mail and personalized search tools.

Google views its expansion into health records management as a logical extension because its search engine already processes millions of requests from people trying to find about more information about an injury, illness or recommended treatment. But the health venture also will provide more fodder for privacy watchdogs who believe Google already knows too much about the interests and habits of its users as its computers log their search requests and store their e-mail discussions.

No kidding.

The truth of the matter is that there’s a trade-off between convenience and privacy and many if not most of us are willing to take that risk. I use Google as my primary e-mail, instant messenger, RSS client, social media interface (Facebook), search engine, personal calendar, document sharing mechanism, and probably some other things that I’m forgetting. I also use Yahoo’s e-mail and photo storage system (Flickr), which could be acquired by Google at any moment.

The Googlezon is upon us. Resistance is futile.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tlaloc says:

    I think it’s important that we make these decisions carefully and in a reasoned way. For instance I agree that allowing Google too much access to information is an unacceptable risk. I choose to use them for internet searches and for email. I choose not to use them for other applications. That certainly allows them a great deal of insight into my life but they’re not the panopticon.

  2. Elmo says:

    I don’t use Googe for anything. At all. Ever. Period. I’m not an over the edge type, and do allow for the word’s place in the world (the verb/to search online).

    But having been witness to a c t i v e editing of my Google owned website (in addition to previously being excluded from their algorithm). I wouldn’t trust them to hand out two squares of toilet paper, at the Tijuana border crossing bathroom.

    Google free is easy (nuttin to it honey).