With the release of Google Health will come, I expect, another round of privacy paranoia. I wrote about this before, when Microsoft's HealthVault appeared. Both services are voluntary but it doesn't take much insight to recognize that before long, you won't have a choice. Your medical records will be consolidated and networked and if you want health care, you will be in the databases — just as you are if you drive a car, use a credit card, or have a job.
It is perhaps unnerving that the institutions that are rushing forward to fill the need are companies committed to cataloging and sharing information. But I think that's a good thing: These companies have a lot to lose if any of the information escapes.
Regardless of who does it, there is an urgent need. Health care makes poor use of information technology now, way behind other industries. There are great benefits in economy, efficiency, quality of medical service — and privacy. Consolidated records are safer. Most of us now have dozens of records, all different, under poor control, in each doctor's office, hospital, diagnostic lab, or pharmacy. Few of us even know where all our records are. I think this is a boon and it's been a long time coming.