Cleveland — Cleveland Clinic is collaborating with Google to pilot features and services of a new health offering. The recently announced Google Health electronic system, not yet publicly available, will assist providers by helping patients gain control of their medical records, which stands to benefit health insurers. Customers will have access their own health records online, enabling them to schedule appointments and refill prescriptions as well as interact with multiple physicians and health care service providers on their own—reducing reliance on an insurers’ customer service departments.

In addition to its agreement with Cleveland Clinic, Google said it signed deals with a range of companies, including Aetna Inc., medical tester Quest Diagnostics Inc., Walgreens and Walmart Stores Inc. pharmacies, as well as a number of other hospitals.

Today, more than 100,000 Cleveland Clinic patients use Cleveland Clinic’s electronic personal health record (PHR) system called eCleveland Clinic MyChart. The pilot, an invitation-only opportunity offered to a group of Cleveland Clinic PHR users, plans to enroll between 1,500 and 10,000 patients.

It will test secure exchange of patient medical record data such as prescriptions, conditions and allergies between their Cleveland Clinic PHR to a secure Google profile in a live clinical delivery setting. The ultimate goal of this patient-centered and controlled model is to give patients the ability to interact with multiple physicians, health care service providers and pharmacies.

"Patients are more proactively managing their own healthcare information," says C. Martin Harris, M.D., CIO, Cleveland Clinic. "At Cleveland Clinic, we strive to participate in, and help to advance, the national dialogue around a more efficient and effective national health care system."

"Utilizing Cleveland Clinic’s PHR expertise, this collaboration is intended to help Google test features and services that will ultimately allow all Americans (as patients) to direct the exchange of their medical information between their various providers without compromising their privacy," he adds.

The pilot will eventually extend Cleveland Clinic’s online patient services to a broader audience while enabling the portability of patient data so patients can take their data with them wherever they go—even outside the Cleveland Clinic Health System.

"We believe patients should be able to easily access and manage their own health information," says Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products and User Experience, Google. “We chose Cleveland Clinic as one of the first partners to pilot our new health offering because as a provider, they already empower their patients by giving them online tools that help them manage their medical records online and coordinate care with their doctors."

By integrating with the Google platform, Cleveland Clinic is helping create national access to electronic medical records at no cost to the user or provider. The integration between the two systems will help deliver:

    * National Access — A more efficient and effective health care system driven by a working interoperability model that moves electronic medical records from a closed model to one that is open and connected.

    * Consumer Empowerment — A secure, patient-centric, consumer-driven tool that will provide each consumer increased control of their medical care, without compromising their privacy. This will empower patients to actively manage their overall health.

    * 24/7 Access/Portability — A Web portal with 24/7 access, capable of providing the consumer with an opportunity to actively engage in their health care, heightening the importance of quality care and service by providers.

"The partnership with Google is an example of true innovation in health care, which brings value to patients and providers," says Delos Cosgrove, M.D., president and CEO, Cleveland Clinic, and member of the Google Health Advisory Council. “As the volume of medical information available to patients increases, it becomes more important for doctors and patients to use this information in a way that empowers the patient to be more collaborative with their care providers."

Sources: Cleveland Clinic, Reuters

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