Google Health: First Failure of 2012

ComputerWorld – At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s day, Google Health, the personal health record data aggregation service for consumers, will shut down for good.

Google first made the announcement quietly, in a blog post last June. But the closure of Google Health next month is also an important inflection point for public cloud-based services.

Google Health’s failure shows that there are limits to how far users are willing to go in allowing access to personal information in exchange for free services. Will other initiatives soon follow?

Google’s goal was “to create a service that would give people access to their personal health and wellness information,” all in one place. It did not provide federated access to the data, but physically moved the data to its servers. It wanted to “translate our successful consumer-centered approach from other domains to healthcare and have a real impact on the day-to-day health experiences of millions of our users,” according to Google’s blog post.

Google anonymized, or “de-identified” users’ personal health data for purposes of data mining and publishing trends, most famously the trending information on influenza outbreaks. But its privacy policy precluded sharing of personally identifying information, and even de-identified information, with third parties. Read More

Harvard study says computers don’t save hospitals money

Hospital computer systems are often built for administrators, not doctors

Computerworld – A Harvard Medical School study that looked at some of the nation’s “most wired” hospital facilities found that computerization of those facilities hasn’t saved them any money or improved administrative efficiency.

The recently released study evaluated data on 4,000 hospitals in the U.S over a four-year period and found that the immense cost of installing and running hospital IT systems is greater than any expected cost savings. And much of the software being written for use in clinics is aimed at administrators, not doctors, nurses and lab workers.  Continue reading

Health Canada Protecting Personal Privacy: A First Principle for Canadian Health Infostructure

By Andrew J. Siman, Director General Office of Health and the Information Highway, Health Canada

For Health Canada, protecting personal privacy should lie at the heart of efforts to build a national health infostructure composed of health information systems across Canada.

This position derives, not just from a pragmatic realization that responding to privacy concerns is critical to the success of a health information system, but also from the belief that respect for privacy is a fundamental value in Canadian society and central to the provision of health care. Continue reading