Here’s to Your Virtual Health

Tools for maintaining online personal health records

By Lisa Cleary
|  Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010  |  Updated 8:48 AM EDT
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Here’s to Your Virtual Health

Getty Images/OJO Images

Consider online sites for storage of personal health records.

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With virtually everything paperless, consider a personal option for one of the most annoying paper-filing systems ever:  medical records.

Google Health, an expansion of the search engine conglomerate (really, does Google ever sleep?), is a system that allows computer users to store and track their health information and records online, and organize medical records in one place.  So, tired of losing immunizations and test results?  Don’t fear -- consolidate those documents and others, including prescriptions and allergy information, into one easy-to-access account.

The site is additionally helpful as people are actively switching healthcare providers during recent times.  New physicians and other specialists should always have updated medical records of their patients, and such records can be made readily available through a coordinated database.

The health conscious can even track and monitor bodily conditions, exercise regimes, and other issues with Google Health.  How many cups of coffee did you drink?  Or, how many hours did you sleep last week?  Users are free to tailor content, such as news feeds, to specific interests and can also record in a personal health and fitness diary. 

This tailor-made, progress-report feature of Google may additionally be useful for those caring for loved ones.  Information may be shared among other family members if desired, which is convenient if members aren’t living in the same state or even the same country.  Even better, doctors, pharmacists, and other specialists are able to import data directly into the account.

The site further links with Caring Connections to provide Advanced Directives, too.  This legal document grants permission for authorities to speak on your behalf should a medical crisis arise.  Simply download and fill out the form, scan and upload it to your profile, and then share the legal documentation with the necessary parties. 

Prior to launching the site in 2008, Google formed the Google Health Advisory Council, composed of 23 healthcare specialists.  The site states, “We regularly call on past council members and industry thought leaders to help us think of ways to help consumers better organize and act on their health information.”

For those skeptical of invasions of privacy on behalf of the site, the search engine assures users to fear not. 

“No personal or medical information in your Google Health profile is used to customize your Google.com search results for advertising,” states Google directly from the site.  The company also emphasizes that it will never, ever sell personal information.  But, as with anything you put online, be careful who you share the information with and watch closely to see who has access to your account.

Also linked with Google Health is a separate entity, NoMoreClipboard.com, which offers much of the same benefits.  Here, consumers can opt to sign up for various types of accounts.  The free, basic account allows users to maintain personal health records for up to 10 family members.  Perks of the account include access to view records on a ‘Net accessible phone. 

Individuals can sign up for the individual concierge account for $59.95 per year, should they opt for an account with more advanced services.  It allows patients to submit filled-out registration forms to doctors ahead of time prior to appointments.  The family concierge package offers the same benefits for $199.95 but to families with children or to those with members whose health records may be extensive (and so on). 

Like with Google Health, subscribers of NoMoreClipboard.com can store contact information, insurance information (I mean, really, how many times have you tired of filling out your group and ID number per visit?), surgeries, allergies, and so on.  Remember all of your vaccinations and respective dates?  Didn’t think so.  Complete consistent and accurate forms ahead of time and skip the arduous process of recalling, say, 20 different medications and their dosages and intervals to be taken. 

The website additionally offers a unique feature, the NMC911 emergency medical card.  The card allows specialists to review personal health information in an event of an emergency upon entering in an access code.

Though some may view the storage of confidential records online with a skeptical eye, others view the increasing trend as one that’s finally catching up with the Internet era.  But as information overload only increases and continues to, well, overload the consumer, it’s easy to see why so many are doing their research and tossing those clipboards out of the waiting room.

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