IBM Joins Google For Wireless Healthcare

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has reached a deal with IBM to enhance its medical data system, Google Health. IBM will provide technology to allow users to update their records in real-time through Internet-connected medical devices.

The technology involves fitting WiFi radio connections to tools such as heart rate monitors or blood sugar measurement meters. The data will then sync with their computer and automatically update their records in the Google Health service.

The scheme, announced in 2007 and formally launched in May last year, allows users to store their medical records online and import details from participating healthcare providers. Google says bringing these details together allows for better details on interactions between different drugs. It also offers a series of links to relevant websites for particular conditions.

In the publicity for the deal, IBM says the monitoring could mean "a busy mom can receive daily electronic updates on the health status of an aging parent who lives alone, is suffering from high blood pressure, and is on multiple medications." (Source:

Google Health Privacy Concerns

Privacy campaigners are concerned about the implications of Google having access to so much real-time data. Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy told Forbes "It's one thing to turn your search queries over to Google. This is like making them your next of kin."

Google maintains it will keep all data secret and won't use it for advertising purposes. That reassurance isn't enough for some critics who point out that the service is specifically exempted from the privacy laws governing information held by healthcare providers. (Source:

Fortunately, the scheme doesn't appear to include any options for publishing your latest medical details online. That could make for some particularly tiresome blogs by hypochondriacs. And given the effects his health scares have had on stock prices, it would probably also lead to pressure from Apple shareholders to have Steve Jobs permanently hooked up for monitoring.

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