Mar. 25th, 2009

joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
OK, I have like absolutely no free time right now, but this was too important to wait.  I found the coolest Google function ever!

If you haven't heard yet, Google has now given us the option to store our medical records ONLINE.  And it's about fucking time!  Do you know how much time, storage space, and paper would be saved by taking all our medical records digital?  And how much money that translates into?  I don't have the figures in front of me, but trust me, it's a lot! 

Yeah, I know, people are afraid of their "personal" information getting "out there", but going digital is seriously the best direction we can go with this.  I don't really have the time for (and therefore am not going to) debate the merits of the details of going digital - there are good points and bad points, safer methods and not-as-safe methods - right now I'm just talking about in general, digital files are the way to go for medical recordkeeping.  Imagine being able to take your records with you when you move, change doctors, or go on vacation!  Right now, the best we have in this arena is if we wear one of those medical alert bracelets, which can really only tell them the barest minimum of the most important information you need to impart.  Until we learn how to implant digital files and data into ourselves so that it's always with us wherever we go, an internet-based storage system is the next best thing (and perhaps even better, since it won't get damaged in the event our bodies get damaged).

Go to www.google.com and click on "more" at the top of the page.  When the pulldown menu appears, click "more" again.  On the next page is a list of all of Google's nifty services and about halfway down the page is Google Health (or go directly to https://www.google.com/health)

You can then fill out all the medical information you want.  I've started by listing my codeine allergies and my latest STD test results and the dates of past procedures like my LASIK and my most recent pap smears.  I still have to go back through old papers, buried somewhere in my file box, for more detailed information like which childhood diseases I've had and exactly which Herpes test I took (since there are several and I can't remember what it was called), but, as I said, I have no free time right now and won't for at least a week, so it's a start.

Then, there are 3 features that really make this super-cool. 

First, for a fee, you can convert paper records.  Google will allow you to "link" your profile with any number of healthcare providers to make your profile easier to maintain.  One of them is called "MediConnect Global", which will, for about $100, actually retrieve medical records from around the world and convert them for import into your Google Health profile.  This is very handy for even finding those records you may have lost or forgotten about.  For a smaller fee, you can use one of the other services that will allow you to send them your records (either email, mail or fax) and they will convert them to a digital file compatible with Google Health, and at least one of these guys will put it on CD for you too.

Another really cool feature is that, if you have a particular condition (or several), you can link your profile to any number of providers who will then monitor your profile for you and give you recommendations, suggestions, let you know about medicine recalls, identify gaps in your current healthcare practices, calculate your risk assessment for things like heart attacks ... in short, the personalized health monitoring system we all wish our doctors would do but rarely have time for in this era of HMOs.  Of course, I don't recommend substituting this service for your real doctor, but some of us don't have doctors, and everyone can use this to aid them and their doctors in their healthcare assessments.

And the third really cool feature is that you can share your health profile with people.  If you have a significant other (or several) or family who might need access to this information in the event of an emergency, you can give them permission to view the information in your profile.  This could come in especially handy if you are rendered incapacitated for any reason and can't assist your loved ones in finding the relevant information at the time of the emergency.

I'm not tagging this with the STI tag, although I think it could be used during the Sexual Health & History Disclosure procedure.  The reason I'm not tagging it is because I think it is important to actually see the physical report from the doctor or lab and not to rely on someone's word that they have been tested.  Google Health amounts to "someone's word", because we all fill out our own profiles, so we have to trust that anyone else's profile is truthful.  However, once a test result has been personally verified, it might be helpful to have access to your partners' history for future reference.  The Sexual Health & History Disclosure Form performs the same function, but it is a local file, whereas Google Health is online and accessable from anywhere with an internet connection.  So I recommend including this with your general Disclosure procedures, but not substituting this for the exchange of real paperwork.

Next, I'd love to see an iPhone app that syncs with Google Health to download a copy of this profile to the iPhone/iPod that can be viewed and edited and syncs back up with the online version.  Then it's only another step away from implantable file storage!

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