Media in Medicine: The Big Guns Are On It

Before I share the main course for today, let me first touch base with the chosen labels for our endless babble involving technology’s role in potentially enhancing or carrying medicine and health care to the next better level—Media, Medicine 2.0 and Health 2.0. I initially have veered away from the latter term in my previous posts as I would like to apply my time more on Media (being mostly new media) and Medicine 2.0. These are more tangible to my focus at this point. I wanted to alleviate the great confusion these digital surnames bring us all. Though further on, I also realized that I too have to be educated on what these terms entail. The differences in detail between the two are also important. We could all learn something new everyday. That said, what is Medicine 2.0 and Health 2.0? Ms. Frankie Dolan, creator of MedWorm shares her understanding with us in her blog, Frankie Speaking Frankly.

…Health 2.0 is the application of Web 2.0 technologies in the area of health, whilst Medicine 2.0 is the use of Web 2.0 technologies in the area of medicine. Some examples can be seen in the Medical 2.0 Directory. I have come to think of Health 2.0 websites as being those that provide services geared towards the consumer, and Medicine 2.0 those geared towards services for the medical professional

Now that that is in place, on to our dish.

It seems like big web corporations such as Google, Microsoft and AOL are all on board the Health 2.0 caravan in pitching in their share of the possible solutions (or possible market share) in the seeming broad revamp, evolution, and even revolution of health care. This could begin an effective model in technologically advanced societies that have an electronic medical system of some sort in place or that are actively transitioning (or have transitioned) their medical records to e— such as the U.S. This could eventually spread across the globe.

Let us begin with Google. According to CNN,

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.

Here is a screen shot cropped from the Liquidmatrix Security Digest.

googlehealth.jpg

The original beta page itself has apparently been taken down. Google has not officially announced this new venture. This project, code named “Weaver” according to Mashable, is evidently made possible with the participation of the non-profit hospital, Cleveland Clinic, which by the way publishes medical e-books that are available free to download in some e-book sites such as Wowio. From the same article in CNN.com,

Contacted Wednesday, a Google spokesman declined to elaborate on its plans. The Associated Press learned about the pilot project from the Cleveland Clinic, a not-for-profit medical center founded 87 years ago.

From a technology and development standpoint, it is exciting. However, I have questions of my own regarding assurance of privacy. Communicating medical and health information on the web is helpful in many ways in streamlining the jungle we call health care. However, the world wide web containing detailed medical information about patients, about us, about you, raises the big security question. Currently, our records are stored in computers in hospital networks and clinic systems. HIPAA issues, anyone? Here is more from CNN,

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.

Prodded by the criticism, Google last year introduced a new system that purges people’s search records after 18 months. In a show of its privacy commitment, Google also successfully rebuffed the U.S. Justice Department’s demand to examine millions of its users’ search requests in a court battle two years ago.

The Mountain View, California-based company hasn’t specified a timetable for unveiling the health service, which has been the source of much speculation for the past two years. Marissa Mayer, the Google executive overseeing the health project, has previously said the service would debut in 2008.

Either way, this is something to look forward to. Hopefully the security bases are, in fact, securely covered.

The other 2 big leaguers who are having their own new hits are Microsoft and AOL.

Here is Microsoft’s Health Vault.

mshealthvault.jpg

According to Mashable,

HealthVault is a web-based personal health record tracking data such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, surgical procedures, etc. Centralizing medical data for physician access alleviates problems in both personalized care and also insurance.

Microsoft does not expect a flood of users to immediately populate the site and is instead looking to existing healthcare institutions for help. Ideally patients will permit hospitals, doctors, and clinics to insert information into their HealthVault records. Early partners of HealthVault include the American Heart Association, Johnson & Johnson, the Mayo Clinic, and seven hospitals throughout the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.

Last but not the least for today is AOL’s Revolution Health and Health Talk.

revohealth.jpg

 

healthtalk.jpg

Here is a report from CNet News.

AOL co-founder Steve Case announced Wednesday his online health and wellness company, Revolution Health Group, has acquired HealthTalk, pushing his company into the ranks of the second-largest health information site on the Net.

HealthTalk will operate as a site within the Revolution Health Network, which includes CarePages.com and RevolutionHealth.com. The Revolution Network is also affiliated with drugstore.com and SparkPeople.com.

More and more examples add to our pages as we continue to explore the important role of media in medicine. The more we know about what is out there and which way we are heading, the more we empower ourselves to participate in our very own process and quality of health care as patients. Thus, we might improve our choices and strengthen our voices about what really matters to us in maintaining our health. As doctors, including other medical professionals, who are abreast with technology can also broaden our reach in terms of understanding, communicating, and ensuring the quality of care we are giving. The important bottom line, as we have emphasized again and again, is the need for effective communication among us all.

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~ by Karina Descartin on 25 February 2008.

9 Responses to “Media in Medicine: The Big Guns Are On It”

  1. Nice detailed writeup of the major players entry into Healthcare IT. What do you think about my prediction that Google Health might be announced by Eric Schmidt at HIMSS?

  2. Hi,
    I think if ever Google decides to do the big announcement at the HIMSS, it would just be appropriately so. Thanks for the visit.

  3. […] Media In Medicine: The Big Guns Are On It (The Story of Healing) […]

  4. People is really sensible to the confidentiality of their medical data. It is critical information.

    The danger with Google Health and HealthVault is that somebody in the future crack their security systems.

    Also the fact about a private company getting data about your health must concern us.

    There is an alternative, http://www.keyose.com/, designed by the doctor that described the first case of Wiiitis, its philosophy is based on total anonymous users. A smart mechanism allows the store of clinical record without asking you any personal data (not even your email).

    Confidentiality is in such a way assured.

  5. Hi Julio,
    Thanks for the link. That would be a good addition to our discussion here. I’ll check it out and perhaps I could share about it here soon. All the best and Congratulations on Keyose!

  6. I’m glad I found your site! Lots of very useful information here!
    I think you might be interested to see http://www.webdietsuccess.com where you can join specific groups not only for the most popular diets but for medical conditions as well. You can even create your own group if you like.

  7. Hi Julio,
    Thanks for the link. That would be a good addition to our discussion here. I’ll check it out and perhaps I could share about it here soon. All the best and Congratulations on Keyose!

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