Update from the Google Health Team

As we exhibit at the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) trade show this year in Atlanta, we want to share with you some of our latest thinking. Google Health has been on the market for a little over two years, and in that time we have seen a growing understanding of the value of consumers being able to own, use, manage and share their medical data online with whomever they choose. While companies like ours work to build technologies like Google Health to make this a reality, we've also seen growing support from the U.S. Government. President Obama has included incentives for doctors to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) in the the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act of 2009 (AARA), and in recent months there have also been a series of Health IT provisions around "Meaningful Use" and EHR Certification all of which should help empower consumers with access to their own information. (Read our recent op-ed for more info about this topic.)

At Google, we understand that changes in the health care industry take time and persistence, including health IT. We have been steadily analyzing feedback from our user surveys and field studies to help make Google Health more useful and relevant to a broad set of consumers on a daily basis. People have been telling us they want more tools to personalize, customize and track their own medical information. These are directions we're certainly exploring, and if you stop by our booth this week at HIMSS you can see a demo of what we're working on.

While we work to refine the Google Health product, we also continue to pursue integration agreements with providers to make it even easier for people to access their own medical information. We've learned over these past two years that getting a current and past medication history assembled and ready in case of emergencies is one of the strongest value propositions for using an online Personal Health Record (PHR). So today at HIMSS, we're announcing an integration with Surescripts, the leading electronic prescribing network in the United States, to help accelerate the availability of prescription drug history to our users. The Surescripts network connects doctors who prescribe medication to all of the nation’s major pharmacy chains, leading health insurance plans and pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), as well as more than 10,000 independent pharmacies nationwide. Surescripts provides access to prescription benefit and history information on behalf of health insurance plans representing 65 percent of patients in the U.S.

Recognizing that hospital and ambulatory data is critical to our consumers, we're also announcing a future integration with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) that will give patients the ability to add health information to an EHR maintained by doctors using their own Google Health PHR. UPMC is working on this integration with Google Health, Carnegie Mellon University and their technology partner dbMotion. Finally, we're announcing the launch of three more integration partners: Citizen Memorial Healthcare (CMH), a rural healthcare network providing care to residents in southwest Missouri, Iatric Systems, an integration consultant, which can facilitate Google Health integrations for hospitals and healthcare systems, and the Withings WiFi Body Scale, which allows Google Health users to seamlessly update their weight and other data to their online profiles.

We hope to see you this week at HIMSS. Come by our booth, see our demo and say hello.