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December 05, 2006

Google Plays Doctor

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/05/2006 12:45:00 PM
Google (Nasdaq GOOG) wants to be your source of medical information. Bad news for WebMD (Nasdaq HLTH). Adam Bosworth, who was formerly with BEA, is leading the initiative. According to Wikipedia, Adam Bosworth developed the Quattro spreadsheet and was VP Engineering at BEA Systems (Nasdasq BEAS). I think there are several issues that need to be resolved before I would use a Google Health product.

1) Google needs to guarantee the privacy of my information and be able to allow me to erase it if I choose. Currently, Google neither tells me what they store in terms of my search queries, nor do they allow me to control the way they use the information. I find this to be highly troublesome today, and even more troublesome if they are planning to manage my medical data. I simply don't want an island of medical data floating out there tethered to a bui that can float anywhere it wants in an ocean full of marketer infested waters.

2) Google needs to explicitly let me decide whether any of my search data is given to marketers. If Google wants to play doctor, then there needs to be patient doctor privacy. I think the traditional notion of doctor patient privacy needs to apply here even though Google is not an MD, because Google probably has as much as if not more data about me than my doctor. I think anyone would agree with this statement. After all, how much time do you spend with your doctor? How much time do you spend with Google every day?

3) Google needs to be transparent about what they do with my data. Currently, I have no idea what happens to my data at Google. I find this to be very scary. It's like feeding Big Brother your most intimate information - address, phone number, email address, birth day, etc - and not knowing who ends up owning it.

Just so that everything is clear, I think many of these rules apply not only to Google but also the other major search providers who handle private information. When a company becomes large enough to influence consumer behavior, then with that scale comes responsibility to consumers. I think it is perfectly reasonable to demand that a company have some social responsibility when it comes to privacy particularly since so muchof our lives are now online.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Eric said...

all blog

6:27 AM  
Blogger YoYoYo said...

Just wanted to mention our patient activist and physician oriented Health Search startup "CureHunter". One of our main design goals is to bring patients and physicians closer to the research so they can make the most educated decisions possible and truly begin to practice Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) in real-time.

...without giving anyone your medical records!

Please check it out if you get the chance.

2:56 AM  

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