Google Health sharing–simple but potentially important

Today late afternoon PST Google flipped the switch on an important change/add to Google Health. Recently they’ve been adding more and more little features, such as printing & graphing, and in the last month getting CVS retail pharmacies on the network (to join Walgreens), and sucking up device data. But this new one may be the most interesting, as Google Health has added the ability for users to invite others to see their records.

Anyone who’s used Google Docs (and that includes all of us working at Health 2.0) immediately gets addicted to sharing those spreadsheets and text documents with a wider team. It’s so easy, you just invite them to it, and then one day you wake up and you’re sharing hundreds of documents with everyone you work with and cannot imagine how you did it before.

For Google Health (and the details got a mention on the main Google blog today) they’re starting sharing relatively slow. Up until now they haven’t had any ability for one person to see into another record unless they know that user name and password. (Do you trust your husband/wife that much? )

Now you can invite anyone to a “read only” view. It’s all or nothing sharing, so they get to see for now everything in your record. Presumably there’ll be changes to that in a later version.

But for now it looks and works just like sharing in Google Docs, in that you can invite anyone. There are some slight differences, in that the receiver cannot edit and cannot re-share, and they have to accept the link from the email (it doesn’t just show up automatically in their Google Health account)

So now people will be able to share Google Health with their families and caregivers. But obviously the big next phase is people offering to share these records with their physicians. We’ll see but this may well be the killer app the PHR has been looking for—after all now a doctor just needs one Google sign-in which they almost certainly have anyway, and they can see all the Google Health PHRs of the patients who start sharing their records with them. And they will. This has the potential to be really disruptive.

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