Web search company Google Inc. is collaborating with Cleveland Clinic, one of the premier U.S. health institutions, to pilot an exchange of data that puts patients in charge of their own medical records.
The healthcare industry has been trying to usher in a paperless era for more than a decade, holding out the promise that electronic medical records would bring significant cost savings.
Currently, only a tiny minority of hospitals and primary care physicians use electronic medical records.
Google said it chose the Cleveland Clinic because it was one of the relatively few health institutions with an electronic system in place. Its eCleveland Clinic MyChart stores medical records of 100,000 patients.
The Cleveland Clinic now plans to enroll 1,500 to 10,000 patients in a test of the secure exchange of medical data, including prescriptions, conditions and allergies, between its systems and a secure Google profile in a live clinical delivery setting.
The clinic said the goal of the model was to allow patients to interact with multiple physicians, healthcare service providers and pharmacies.
The pilot is intended to eventually extend Cleveland Clinic’s online patient services to a broader audience and allow patients to take their medical data with them wherever they go.
“Patients are more proactively managing their own healthcare information,” said Dr. C. Martin Harris, the clinic’s chief information officer.
But concerns about privacy and how access to information would be controlled are just a couple of issues that have slowed the transition to paperless medical records, Morningstar analyst Debbie Wang said.