Google unveils plans for online personal health records

Well, plans to make plans, at least

Less than two weeks after Microsoft Corp. announced plans to support online personal health information records, Google unveiled plans to follow suit.

Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience, said Wednesday here at the Web 2.0 Summit that Google plans to support the "storage and movement" of people's health records.

Although she provided only scant details on the effort, she noted that Google became interested in the personal health record market as it watched Hurricane Katrina take aim at the Gulf Coast and all the paper-based records stored in various medical offices and hospitals in the region.

"In that moment, it was too late for us to mobilize," Mayer said. "It doesn't make sense to generate this volume of information on paper. It should be something that is digital. People should have control over their own records."

For example, she noted, when people change physicians, they should have access to their own X-rays, which they can take to their own doctor instead of having new ones made.

"This is obviously a really big vision. It is a huge endeavor. It will take a lot of breakthroughs in digitization," Mayer said. "This is something we are committed to. You'll be seeing a lot more activity here in the...months to come, so stay tuned."

Microsoft launched its Healthvault measure two weeks ago at an event in Washington.

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