HIMSS10 – Google

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Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives for Google Health speaks with Dr. Eric Fishman about Google’s niche in the Personal Health Record (PHR) market. In the 2 years since Google Health launched, the PHR has become integrated with more providers of information and has made significant strides in usability. Mr. Spector talks about how Google Health’s PHR helps patients gain an aspect of control regarding their health and healthcare.

As interoperability and sharing of health information becomes the new frontier for Health IT, Google Health is focusing the ability for bidirectional transfer of data between various Electronic Health Record, E-Prescribing, Laboratory, Radiology, and Insurance Company systems and patients’ Google Health PHRs. Mr. Spector also makes it clear that patients have a right to their own data, and Google Health could be a major part of the Patient Centered Medical Home approach.  Mr. Spector closes by communicating Google Health’s mission- as a Google company- to provide consumer value. Google Health’s plans for the future include health goal tracking and integrated technologies to support health/wellness and disease monitoring.

Category: Featured, HIMSS10, Tradeshows
Date: March 14, 2010
Views:9,975 views

Dr. Eric Fishman: This is Dr. Eric Fishman and today we're speaking with Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives for Google and we're going to be speaking about Google Health. Alfred, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us.

Alfred Spector: It's my pleasure. My pleasure.

Dr. Eric Fishman: I was here two years ago when at the keynote address, Google Health was announced.

Alfred Spector: Right.

Dr. Eric Fishman: I bet there's been quite a number of changes in that two- year interval and if we could summarize them and then maybe talk about the next two years that would be wonderful.

Alfred Spector: Sure, I'd be happy to. Over two years, we have launched our PHR. We have integrated that PHR with more providers of information to us and also we can now provide information to more and more other services that can utilize that data. All under patient control because that's the idea of a PHR for a patient. It's completely under patient control. We've made significant strides in usability and what we're continuing to do is to understand the real use cases where these PHRs are incredibility useful to individuals. Something that we think is the most important thing is how do we allow individuals to be part of their own health care. How do we make it easier for them to do that and how do we drive valuable outcomes, both quality and cost.

Dr. Eric Fishman: Thank you, Alfred. I can think of two ways of getting data into the PHR. One is the patient puts is there and the other is the physician, probably most frequently true in EHRs. Do you have integration methodology with a variety of EHR files?

Alfred Spector: We do. In fact, we even divide the EHR side into a few categories. There's prescription drug information. That's extremely well coded and very valuable information. You know as physician it's very important to know the meds that a patient is on so that's very useful. In fact, we announced a deal at this conference today with Surescripts.

Dr. Eric Fishman: Great.

Alfred Spector: Surescripts is a hub that has prescription drug information from the bulk of Americans. That will enable us to download prescription drug information increasingly into Google Health, although we already do that with very many pharmacies already. That's an example. Test data is another one. Then there's of course the data from providers and insurance companies. All of those are different categories. Under one degree or another, we allow patients to get data from all of those sources. There's certainly a long way to go with the physicians because there's an enormous number of physician practices that don't have EHRs in the first place.

Dr. Eric Fishman: If a physician does have an EHR and they're using Surescripts can they, at this point and time after yesterday's announcement, essentially automatically have the prescription data uploaded if the patient chooses to have that happen?

Dr. Eric Fishman: I think that's increasingly true. Yes, I think that's correct. There's still some complexity, as I said, with certain systems that are out there but we provide certain interfaces to Google Health. We call it the G-Data interfaces that make it actually quite easy and some of the integrations have gone really rather quickly.

Alfred Spector: You probably have an opinion as to who owns the data and if you'd care to discuss that.

Dr. Eric Fishman: Well, we think that patients have a right to their own data. I think there's a general consensus. One of the things that's happened in the couple of years since we've launched is I think the consensus has built very strongly that we really need to make sure that patients are involved in their own health care and they really have the right to all of the relevant data about themselves.

Dr. Eric Fishman: We've been speaking today with a number of other companies mentioning patient centric home for instance. Obviously, Google Health would be a significant part of that.

Alfred Spector: Part of that patient centric home. I think that's first.

Dr. Eric Fishman: Describe that for just a moment if you would.

Alfred Spector: Well, I think the idea then if you have, over a course of some number of years, your prescription drug information, labs that are there, maybe some of the information - probably not all initially - but some of the information from physicians, major diagnosis and such things, you augment it with some annotations you make as an individual and maybe even some information from devices you have around the house like an electronic scale or a glucometer. This is a very important collection of information that will help guide you as a consumer as to the kind of care you need. You've seen something before, this is what happened, it's the same thing that happened before. You can help, you can know what to do and perhaps your specialist and primary care physician.

Dr. Eric Fishman: For a little while, we were hearing a lot about privacy concerns and maybe I'm wrong, but I've heard it less acutely, if I may in the last few months. Is that less of an issue?

Alfred Spector: I think that's true. I think privacy is a very important issue but it's very important that we vouchsafe the privacy of data. The PHR space is extremely clear about this. The data is the patient's. It's up to the patient to decide where the data goes. The patient has a lot of latitude to decide. The patient may say, I really would like this data to go to this physician or I would like this data maybe to even be sent to some sort of a public bulletin board because I want advice from other patients about what to do. So the patient is in charge. That's does alleviate a lot of the privacy concerns and maybe that's why.

Dr. Eric Fishman: There's a couple of other smaller PHR companies here that have their own branded PHR. In your opinion, do most of them have interfaces or will have interfaces with Google Health at one point and time?

Alfred Spector: I think what we see in the future is a very connected world. Consumers have to have choice as to where they store their data. Many consumers will like us, some consumers will like someone else. I think it's very important that data not be locked into any system. It's the consumer's data as you asked me about earlier on.

Dr. Eric Fishman: What do you envision the next 12, 24 months?

Alfred Spector: I think what we're going to be focusing on is consumer value. It's one thing to argue in a kind of strategic sense that data to consumers is useful. It's another thing to actually make it useful to the consumer because a lot of the data is somewhat esoteric to individuals and how can we make that information useful. For example, in the work we're doing now around Google Health, we're showing at the demo today and will be announcing later that we have goal tracking within the system. You can enter goals, whether they're lab tests or your own measurements that you make, you can keep putting them in so consumers can improve their weight or monitor their glucose levels very carefully.

Dr. Eric Fishman: I love it.

Alfred Spector: We think that will be extremely valuable, will be engaging to people and help in wellness. That's an example. We have a scale here that's $150 scale. When you step on it, the weight goes into Google Health. That's extremely important in monitoring people with cardiac failure.

Dr. Eric Fishman: I think telehealth is clearly as is the PHR something in the future.

Alfred Spector: Those are the kinds of things you'll see more of and I think that's what we want to do as an industry. We can talk about every EHR standard and get involved in immense numbers of very esoteric debates. What I think the public wants and what we need in the health care system is value from these things and as a consumer oriented company that's what we're going to try to do.

Dr. Eric Fishman: Albert, absolutely agree and I think you very much for your time.

Alfred Spector: Thank you for very much. Thanks for the time.

Dr. Eric Fishman: This is Eric Fishman. We've been speaking with Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives for Google. Thank you very much.

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