The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Trends in 2009: Electronic Medical Records

EMR got a boost in Canada’s budget, and is getting traction in the U.S. as well.  In Canada, EMR initiatives are likely to be implemented by the Provincial health plans directly, with back-end services from a variety of vendors.  In the U.S., the ultimate structure is less clear.  Google has tried to get ahead of the trend (as has Microsoft), and the WSJ Health Blog had an interesting post last week:

Google, which last year launched Google Health, a personal online repository, was quick to refute a charge by a different consumer group, called Consumer Watchdog, of “a rumored [Google] lobbying effort aimed at allowing the sale of electronic medical records.”

Google shot back, posting an item in its public policy blog calling the claims “100 percent false and unfounded.” The company added:

Google does not sell health data. In fact, one of our most steadfast privacy principles is that we don’t sell our users’ personal data, whether it’s stored in Google Health, Gmail, or in any of our products. And from a policy perspective, we oppose the sale of medical information in the health care industry.

I wonder if the argument isn’t partly semantics.  In Gmail, which I don’t use (yet), I understand Google does a scary-good job of placing contextual ads while complying fully with their statement above.  My reluctance to use Google Health wouldn’t be that my weight would become public and I’d start getting flyers in the mail from Subway (this kind of privacy is so fundamental to the success of any system, I assume it would be honored regardless).  I’d be plenty disturbed by internal data sharing fully consistent with Google’s statement above if my GMail started showing me ads for aortic stents.  Plus, the WSJ makes a good point — there’s no HIPAA to backstop Google’s goodwill.

On the other hand, maybe I’m the only one who cares about my medical records (even post-GINA, I’m not sure I buy that). More importantly, it’s not like the government has done such a good job on the privacy front, so if not Google, who?

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7 responses to “Trends in 2009: Electronic Medical Records

  1. Brian Orelli February 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I search for drugs in Google all day long as part of my job and I haven’t seen drug ads come up in Gmail (unless the e-mails are about them). I’m not sure they’re cross pollinating their offerings — at this point.

    I still think it was a mistake to not put adds in Google Health. Seems like an easy place to get a lot of click throughs.

    • Jeremy G February 4, 2009 at 4:54 pm

      Do you mean you have seen drug ads where the email is about drugs? Now that I think about it, I don’t recall seeing much drug/device advertising at all on the web. Maybe because I’m browsing in Canada?

  2. Brian Orelli February 5, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I tend to tune them out, but I just went back and looked, and they tend to be more about clinical trial management rather than drugs themselves. The ads in Gmail are definitely contextual though. It’s funny what pops up from e-mail from The Motley Fool.

    I’ve seen a lot of drug ads in Google. If you search for a popular drug or disease, you’ll usually get one or two drugs that treat that disease.

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