Tech giants back online health records standards

Microsoft and Google join a collection of insurers and health care providers in endorsing privacy standards intended to protect medical records stored online.

Microsoft and Google have joined a collection of insurers and health care providers in endorsing privacy standards intended to protect medical records stored online.

The new "Connecting For Health" guidelines, which are also intended to reassure people that storage of their medical records online is safe, aim to break the "typical logjam in health care," according to a statement released by the Markle Foundation, which organized the consensus framework.

The move comes as Google and Microsoft ramp up their efforts to create portals where consumers can l upload, store, and view personal information, as well as share that information with medical professionals and insurance companies.

However, consumer adoption has been slow. Just 6.1 million adults in the United States have electronic personal health records, according to estimates released by the Markle Foundation.

"Consumer demand for electronic personal health records and online health services will take off when consumers trust that personal information will be protected," Zoe Baird, the Markle Foundation's president, said Wednesday in a statement.

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine in April suggested that Google and Microsoft's databases of patient information could eventually grow to be larger and more up-to-date than the databases of other well-known medical research programs. As a result, researchers may find it easier and cheaper to team up with Microsoft and Google when doing their research, rather than relying on a number of sources for data to do their research.

Others supporting the guidelines include WebMD, lobbying group AARP, Aetna, America's Health Insurance Plans, BlueCross BlueShield Association, and the American Medical Association.

 

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