Patients should decide who gets to see their healthcare data, said Alfred Spector, Google vice president of research and special initiatives, during a question-and-answer session held after his presentation March 25 at the American College of Healthcare Executives' annual congress on healthcare leadership in Chicago.
When asked if a patient has the right to delete information from a personal health record so one physician can't see what another entered, Spector said he wasn't sure about this at first, “But now it's clear to me; the answer is ‘yes.' ”
“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.
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 family members separated by the recent earthquake in Haiti could find each other.