“A patient has a right to a second opinion that's not biased by the original diagnosis,” Spector explained, adding patients should also be able to correct errors or annotate information entered by their physician. For example, they may type in a line about not having a cholesterol problem, and explain that their high cholesterol reading was the result of eating a pound of bacon before their doctor's visit.
“People have a lot of difficulty with selected access control,” Spector said, but patients can decide for themselves whether their cardiologist needs to see their psychiatric diagnosis.
What patients want, he said, was “transaction efficiency,” and that includes secure messaging with their physician, prescription refills, online scheduling, telemedicine consultations, and timely lab results and visit summaries.
Spector said bad news should be delivered immediately, and that his physician wife disagrees with him on this saying, “I don't want Google to tell my patient they have AIDS.”
Another possible computer program that makes “physicians cringe,” Spector said, will be a diagnosis application that is not available now but that he is sure someone will be offering in the future.
Acknowledging that his presentation may skew “inevitably self-serving toward Google,” Spector said that much of what he had to say would also apply to Google's competitors, and he went on to talk about a plethora of innovations involving converting speech to text and vice versa and transmitting information from one type of device to another and from one language to another. He recommended that organizations put “translation boxes” on their Web sites.
Noting that it was Greek Independence Day, Spector paraphrased the Socrates quote “An unexamined life is not worth living” to “The unmeasured life is not worth living.”
While noting that Google is devoting “an immense amount of energy to privacy and security,” he also said there was going to be an immense amount of measurement in healthcare and that “I've never seen an organization that is more measurement-oriented than Google.”
With these measures, Spector told how Google was able accurately track flu outbreaks in the U.S. and develop a “person finder” so families separated by the recent earthquake in Haiti could find each other.
He also said science fiction writers who predicted an age when people are controlled by computers were wrong and that the opposite will be true, because “computer systems are really an extension of us.”