Your heart rate, now on Google

Google and IBM have announced a partnership that will enable Google Health to connect to and stream from medical devices.

According to Forbes, “In demonstrations, IBM and Google fitted Wi-Fi radios to gadgets like heart rate monitors, blood pressure cuffs, scales and blood-sugar measurement meters, allowing the devices to communicate with a PC and feed real-time medical information directly into Google’s online records.

“Hooking up those devices to the Web, IBM argues, will offer a new immediacy and granularity of health monitoring. A user can remotely track the blood pressure readings or glucose levels of a diabetic parent living alone, or stream his or her medical information like weight or heart rate directly to a doctor or physical trainer.”

“….For IBM, the new Google Health functions are also a dress rehearsal for “smart” health care nationwide. The computing giant has been coaxing the health care industry for years to create a digitized and centrally stored database of patients’ records. That idea may finally be coming to fruition, as President Obama’s infrastructure stimulus package works its way through Congress, with $20 billion of the $819 billion fiscal injection aimed at building a new digitized health record system.”

Privacy concerns abound. As Forbes reports: “‘They give consumers the appearance of an effective way to keep their health information, but it’s also a digital gold mine for health marketing,’ says Jeff Chester, director of the Center for Digital Democracy, who points to Google’s sponsorship of the ePharma drug marketing conference taking place in Philadelphia next week. ‘It’s one thing to turn your search queries over to Google. This is like making them your next of kin,’ Chester says. ‘Why would you give an advertising company access to your moment-by-moment expression of health concerns and risks?'”

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