Google is planning to use its substantial data storage and organizational capacities, in the field of medical care and patient records. The yet unnamed service due to launch in early 2008 will provide a number of services related to the health industry.
“Google is often the first place online for health related questions.” Head of search at Google, Marissa Mayer had this to say,
“Google has developed a prototype online platform for its health offering that incorporates personal medical records, health care-related search features, diet and exercise regimens, a localized “find a doctor” application, and other elements. The company has shown the prototype to unspecified partners and is having both Google employees and “trusted testers” beta-test the system”
The demand for such a service is strong, with 71 percent of online consumer’s using search engines to find health-related information, but only 16 percent find the information they are looking for.
The key problems faced by Google in operating a successful health service is Microsoft and “privacy concerns.” Microsoft has already released Health Vault, which aims to be “part medical search engine, part repository of personal data and health information that can be selectively disclosed to doctors and other interested parties.”
The success of the service is reliant on Google’s ability to maintain the privacy of user’s information, and convince first time users that their private medical details will be safe. The unauthorized release of user’s details would be disastrous for Google.