Google enters the electronic health records business. Will seniors benefit?

            Today’s Baltimore Sun had a story on a partnership between Erickson Retirement Communities and three Baltimore-area hospital systems (Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar Health, and Maryland Medical System) to pioneer a health exchange systems that would give doctors and emergency room physicians quick access to patients’ medical histories. The non-profit start-up they’ve created, Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients, or CRISP, has allocated $250,000 in startup funds.

 Leaders in the mature market, my friends at Erickson Retirement Communities have long been at the forefront of using electronic medical records. In fact, the medical experts at Erickson already successfully use it for their 21,000+ residents (including my Dad) AND have recently been talking about bringing their model to the outside world. But they better hurry.

            Google announced in February that they have kicked off a pilot with 1,500 to 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic (and I guarantee you that Google is bringing more than $250,000 to the party). These patients have volunteered to allow electronic transfer of their personal health records so they can be retrieved through Google’s new service. This service won’t be open to the general public during the pilot period.

Google isn’t the first big dog joining the fight to make it easier for people to get their medical records at any time and any place. Last year, Microsoft introduced a similar service called HealthVault, and AOL co-founder Steve Case has been working on a similar service called Revolution Health. Needless to say, this is a high stakes game with lots of money at stake. But even more importantly, the future of a key component to our health care system is at play . . . much like computer operating systems . . . Windows vs. MAC OS.

I’m rooting for my friends at Erickson but it’s hard to bet against Google and Microsoft.

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