The Inside Dope on the New Google Health Service
After the usual lengthy alpha phase--and more than a little hullaballoo over potential privacy concerns--Google Health has launched. While it remains to be seen whether entrusting your personal health records to Google is ultimately a good idea, the service does offer some value as a convenient online place to store and manage your health information. So rather than join the fray in debating whether or not you should actually give Google Health a try, I'll just take you on a tour of the service and leave your health care privacy decisions up to you.
If you already have a Google account for Gmail, Picasa Web Albums, or another of the company's vast array of services,
By default, Google Health will use your log-in name as your profile name. If you'd rather use your actual name (which will make your identity clearer to a doctor who looks at your printed profile later), click Settings, click your profile name, type your preferred name, and press Enter. When you're done, click Save changes and then click your updated profile name at the top of the left menu column to return to your main profile page.
To fill in your personal statistics, such as height, weight, birthdate, and so on, click Age, sex, height... under Profile Details on the left. Click Save when you've entered all of the pertinent data.
Unless you're among the tiny handful of people whose medical services already exist in digital form and whose health care organization is ready to share them
In the 'Add to this profile' screen, you can enter any medical conditions, medications, allergies, procedures, test results, and immunizations relevant to your health. The interface is quite straightforward. Click the appropriate tab at the top of the screen, and then start typing the name of your condition, allergy, or what-have-you into the text field. Google Health will attempt to auto-complete your entry, showing you a list of possible matches. When you find the one you want to enter, click it and then click the +Add button. Alternatively, you can slog through the alphabetized list of choices beneath. Do this for all of the conditions, procedures, allergies, and so on that you'd like to enter.
In the not-so-distant future, every health care company you deal with--from your hospital to your insurance company to your corner pharmacy--may begin linking to sites like Google Health so you can automatically import all of their records about you and share the data
Once you have entered the names of any drugs you are taking or have imported prescription information from a linked pharmacy, Google Health will scout for potentially dangerous drug interactions and alert you by placing either a hexagon or a triangle with an exclamation point beside the Drug interactions link in the left menu. The service will also alert you to any notices from your linked service providers.
Find Your Doctors
You can add your family practitioner, surgeons, or other doctors you visit to your profile by clicking--what else?--Find a doctor in the left menu. Choose a type of practice from the drop-down list, type your doctor's name in the search field, and click the Search button. When you locate the doctor you're looking for, click Save to medical contacts to add that person
Add Emergency Contacts
To round out your profile, add an emergency contact by clicking Medical Contacts and choosing Create a contact from the next screen. Enter your spouse, parents, or any other person you'd like a physician or hospital to notify in the event of an emergency, and include as many detailed notes as possible about the persons to be contacted,
Print It Out
Once you've entered all of the relevant data into Google Health, all that remains is to keep it updated and to choose Print from the upper-right corner of the screen whenever you want to print out a fresh copy for your health care provider, family members, or anyone else you'd like to entrust with your data.