Google, IBM team to take health records from PDA to e-health database

Jointly created software is designed to give doctors, patients real-time health data

Google Inc., IBM and the Continua Health Alliance this week unveiled jointly developed software designed to stream patient information from a doctor's mobile device to online data stores.

The two tech giants worked with the Beaverton, Ore.-based health care provider to extend the value of Google's Google Health service and other online health information offerings, and to ensure that stored patient health records are up to date, according to an IBM press release.

"Our partnership with IBM will help both providers and users gain access to their device data in a highly simplified and automated fashion," said Sameer Samat, director for Google Health, in a statement. "IBM has taken an important step in providing software that enables device manufacturers and hospitals to easily upload recorded data into a [personal health records] platform such as Google Health."

Google Health is designed to enable users to store, manage and share their medical records and personal health information with health care providers online. It is available without charge to individuals.

Last May, Google opened its hosted online patient medical records service to the public, seven months after the online giant announced plans to enter the e-health business. Right off the bat, the Google Health program faced questions about privacy and security.

Both IBM and Google, however, contend that e-health technology will give patients, doctors and family members access to better information.

Using the new software to connect personal medical devices to Google Health will, for instance, enable people to more easily exchange information about their health with their doctors and caregivers in real time. IBM noted that the system could make it possible for an adult child to receive updates on the status of an aging parent who is living alone and dealing with a chronic condition.

Maria DeGiglio, an analyst at Experture Group, a business consultancy in Westport, Conn., said the new software could prove beneficial to people dealing with a chronic illnesses.

"Since Google Health will be using IBM's Cognos analytical capabilities, eventually a patient could see health trends and begin to learn what lifestyle or other behaviors are affecting his or her glucose levels or blood pressure," said DeGiglio. "This kind of information would be useful to a physician to determine if the patient should be on a certain medication, if dosage should be adjusted, if the medication is having minimal or no affect, etc. In addition, the adult child of a parent with a chronic health condition could also monitor his or her parent's glucose or blood pressure remotely -- should the parent grant access to that adult child."

She added that the tool could prevent costly and frightening visits to the emergency room.

Using guidelines from Continua Health Alliance, the new tool integrates the capabilities of IBM's information management and business intelligence systems and its WebSphere Premises Server sensor event platform with Google Health, the companies said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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