British National Health Service to Partner with Google and Microsoft

The British National Health Service (NHS) has undergone a lot of criticism in recent years due to overspending on IT project that have subsequently failed to delivery on time or as expected. Although nothing has been agreed at this stage, the Conservative Party are stating that they will move to make a partnership with Google and/or Microsoft.

The British conservative party have suggested that they will use Google or Microsoft to store and manage patient data for the National Health Service.

Few people realise that Google Health provides such a wide range of valuable information on medical health issues. Also, already anyone with a Google account can set up their health information on Google health, and then share with whoever they wish. This could be private doctors, family members or close friends. Google Health allows you to keep records a range of data including:

  • Age, gender and height
  • Conditions
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Procedures
  • Test results
  • Immunizations
  • Insurance

Google Health has partnered with several medical websites that will, for a fee, arrange to import your medical records into the Google Health system. At the moment this can only work with private medical health insurance companies, however the British Conservative Party would like patients to have the opportunity to import their NHS records.

Google Health also provides an excellent directory of health care professionals and medical contacts, just follow the “Find a doctor” link. You need a Google Account to use these services, but it is free to sign up.

Microsoft’s Healthvault provides similar services, with an area for patients to manage their health information and also an area for health professionals to manage their patient data.

HealthVault lets you …

  • Organize your health information, with everything in one place
  • Simplify your life: enter health info once, use it in many ways
  • Gain insight with data that helps you make informed decisions

One of the problems with the British system is that people have records on file with the NHS for life, but will also have separate records on file if they have any private medical insurance. Neither party has access to the others information, it is up to the patient to pass information on. If patients can use one system to keep records of all their health activities and prescriptions, this could provide a more efficient and safer database. Also, NSH patients do not actually have access to their own medical records. If you want to find out what diseases you had as a child, or when you were immunised, you have to make an appointment to see you GP. This again is inefficient and uses up valuable resources.

Many people will be concerned about the security risk associated with placing their personal information with a third party, especially one which can be accessed online. However, no system is totally secure, and there seems little point in the taxpayer contributins billions of pounds to an IT system that is forever being delayed when there are solutions already available.

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