Would you trust Google and Microsoft with your health records?

Would you trust Google and Microsoft with your health records?

Hospital by Norbert Kaiser (Wikimedia Commons)While many people are happy to share their photos, videos and location online, most would draw the line at uploading their health records too. That’s exactly what one political party in the UK is reportedly planning though.

The proposal from the Conservative Party would give individuals the right to choose for a private company to hold their medical records. There would be a variety of companies offering the service and Google’s Google Health and Microsoft’s HealthVault are among those in the frame.

At present all UK records for publicly-funded healthcare are held by the government-run NHS. An ongoing scheme to computerise all NHS records has hit repeated delays and has been criticised for its complexity and cost.

A Conservative Party spokesman, quoted by The Times says “This is an agenda we are massively keen on. We’re thinking about how in government the architecture of technology needs to change, with people ‘owning’ their own data, including their health records.”

The idea of individuals controlling their own healthcare records is laudable and online medical records are already available in the USA where there is no public healthcare option. However, in the UK the majority of people’s healthcare is publicly funded and they are used to their records being held by a public body. Would the UK adapt to the idea of handing their records to large corporations like Google and Microsoft?

Then there’s Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s role in the proposal to be questioned. The Conservatives, currently the opposition party in the UK, have been cosying up to Google for a while and Schmidt is an economic advisor to the party. Google will be keen to expand Google Health into Europe. It’s easy to put two and two together and come up with a nice tidy sum for Google in this deal.

The Times reports that this is still very much a proposal. As such it may or may not make it into the Conservative Party’s next General Election manifesto.

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