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Google Health Open Platform Is Great — Or Awful

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the now-that's-a-dialectic dept.

Data Storage 179

JackPowers writes "The Google Health APIs enable portable, standardized, open architecture, extensible personal health records, which is nice but boring if they're just used to manage the paperwork of the doctor/patient relationship. But once the data is set free, all kinds of Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 apps are possible. This article looks ahead 10 years at Best Case Scenarios. A follow-up article lists the Worst Case Scenarios."

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Google is not to be trusted (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682627)

No private company should be so entrenched in society that it would be impossible to survive without the service they provide. If I can't get a job without a Google Health "badge", then something somewhere has gone horribly wrong.

This is already a big problem with credit companies becoming so pervasive. It's also bad enough that private companies are leading the American military around by the nose. But that pales in comparison to the actual, direct, and personal limits imposed by something like the system the article is talking about.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (-1, Flamebait)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682669)

1) Google isn't a private company. It's a private-sector company, but it's a publicly-owned company, i.e., anyone with enough cash can own a piece of Google.

2) In some areas, having bad credit will prevent you from getting a job. What's the difference?

Re:Google is not to be trusted (5, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682763)

That's the very point the OP was making. The credit companies are already ridiculous. Not, "yay credit companies! it's totally ok that they can ruin your life!"

Re:Google is not to be trusted (3, Interesting)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682935)

Healthcare companies can already ruin your life, literally and figuratively. If one of their people incorrectly transcribes 1 character of your personal info your insurance company will deny the $35,000 invoice they send and it will fall entirely on you to sory out. That same transcription error can result in your new doctor not getting your medical records from your old doctor, who probably doesn't have a complete set anyway because to get them you'd have to put in a request from every single medical provider you've ever visited.

It doesn't have to be this way. I'm usually a big free market believer, but I'm also a vet who has been through the VA healthcare system (unfortunately named VistA). Here [fredtrotter.com] is a good piece that mentions the VA's system and how it is being used by an FOSS project to get some of this under control.

I don't particularly like Google, but I like the US healthcare system even less.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683329)

The UK is working on a massive centralized database of health records called NPfIT [ieee.org] . Aside from all the typical delays and cost overruns [ieee.org] of deploying a massive new IT system, there is widespread concern [4ni.co.uk] about privacy among citizens. It will be very interesting (and easy) for Americans to sit back and watch how it pans out. I have an in-law who was fired from a nice hospital job for unauthorized access of patient records (she was showing a friend hoping to get hired on how they file things), which showed me both that 1) privacy concerns are real, and 2) institutions take the matter seriously, at least in some cases.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683819)

(unfortunately named VistA)
I can see why the state of the VA health system would worry you so much. Anyone who considers it "unfortunate" that a health system happens to share the name of a bad MS OS is in need of deep psychological help. Really, you shouldn't be allowed near a computer for your own good.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1, Troll)

edrobinson (976396) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684045)

This has nothing to do with transcription errors. They will happen no matter what as long as people are involved.

I believe that massive healthcare databases could solve myriad problems particularly that of providing all doctors access to your complete medical record.

This whole privacy thing is a sham and things like HIPAA are solutions looking for problems.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683407)

... In some areas, having bad credit will prevent you from getting a job. What's the difference ...

You can do something about bad credit. Most health problems are outwith your control (cancer, car accident, genetic problems ...)

Re:Google is not to be trusted (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682815)

It is already very wrong. many places pull your credit report for hiring. They throw away everyone below 680.

Honestly this practice should be outlawed and companies that do so need to be fined heavily.

also the fact taht your credit report is probably the MOST INNACURATE information you have on you and companies make decisions based on this horribly inaccurate data.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683067)

If a company sees you as a liability risk through your credit then they should do anything to prevent you from working there. I only wished more companies did this. If i ran a company you better believe that a credit check from all 3 credit reporting agencies would be done along with a criminal background check and a piss test for drug/alcohol use.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (2, Insightful)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683415)

Nothing like being guilty until proven innocent is there?

A criminal background check, ok, not a big deal for the most part and can save a company a lot of potential headaches and/or liability.

A credit check though? What good does that do for a company? Actually, wouldn't most companies prefer employees with less than good credit ratings as they would likely be less able to leave the job?

Piss test too you say. And why can't this be left to law enforcement? Pretty serious invasion of privacy, and if there's not a damned good reason for it how can it possibly be justified?

Actually, companies doing these things could be opening themselves up for lawsuits. A lot of places have laws in place to disallow discriminatory hiring practices, which these in most cases would be. There would have to be a darned good reason for discriminating based on credit rating for the job to use that as a reason not to hire someone.

Anyways, there are probably more reasons than just this as to why you _don't_ own your own company. But should you ever make the leap, could you just post a notice on /. so we all know _not_ to bother applying? Mmkay, thanks.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683627)

It depends... if that person is going to be handling a company credit card or something, or otherwise have some autonomy with company funds, I can see a credit check being reasonable.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683653)

The reason I would do a credit check to decrease the liability that a person would potentially sell trade secrets or other proprietary information for money to settle credit card and other outstanding debts.


The reason for a piss test would be to weed out the people who would potentially come into work under the influence of drugs or alcohol which could cost a company a lot of money if an employee got hurt on the job and then would cost the company more money in possible litigation and workmans comp claims.


All this would be easily mitigated with a piss test, credit check, and criminal history since they can all be easily tied together with a rope.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683569)

Alcohol use! OK, drinking(or being drunk) at work is not allowed. But they can't stop you drinking in your own time as long as you don't turn up drunk.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683839)

Exactly, and thats what I would like to prevent.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683877)

Why piss test?

What fucking business is it of yours if I drink at the weekend?

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 6 years ago | (#23684173)

I dont care if you drink on the weekends, as I would probably do it as well. The piss tests would be completely random and company wide.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682907)

No private company should be so entrenched in society that it would be impossible to survive without the service they provide.

Define impossible. My father in law doesn't have a credit rating. He lives in a rural area where most deals are done in cash. But he has to work harder and has a lower standard of living because of his choices.

You have a right to compete in the job market. But you don't have a right for a job.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (1)

hamvil (1186283) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683033)

You have a right to compete in the job market. But you don't have a right for a job.
Well this is what sets Europe apart from US.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (5, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683169)

Yes, especially as in 10 years time it will probably still be Google Health beta.

Re:Google is not to be trusted (3, Funny)

Julie188 (991243) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683271)

"But once the data is set free, all kinds of Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 apps are possible." Newsflash ... it's not a bright idea to load up any of these online cloud databases with your personal medical records ... I mean, why the heck would I want to blab to Google (and hence, eventually the world) that I'm a herpes-infested schizophrenic ... no, you're not ... yes, I am ... no way! ... I told you to stop bothering me while I'm typing ...

Re:Google is not to be trusted (4, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683751)

No private company should be so entrenched in society that it would be impossible to survive without the service they provide.

An insightful comment if ever I read one, but I'm afraid you're a few generations late. As a society we gave up believing in government, institutions of power or authority, religeon, civic responsibility and most all notions of tradition, and adopted instead a belief in individuality and self-fullfilment. That doesn't leave us with much, does it?

If the current trend continues and free market idealogues get to rule the day, we should expect to have everything from infrastructure to institutions ruled and run entirely by corporations (to the extent they don't already), and we'll all be working for Taco Bell or for The Brawndo Corporation.

The situation can also be viewed political terms. A good portion of the electorate really does believe that government is evil, that government can't possibly do anything as efficiently or as cheaply as business, and that taxes infringe on their God given rights, but they're only too happy to let the Walmarts of the world take over provided they can maintain the illusion they've kept a few extra dollars in their own pockets.

The people who complain about undue corporate influence on government probably don't notice that they've succumbed to those same influences in their own lives, but they might notice when there's nothing left to sell off, somebody else holds all the cards and those free-market choices they've been promised come up short.

Google, I think, is doing what any business does, and that's fulfulling an unmet need and making or trying to make a profit in doing so. The question is why we're not doing it ourselves?

Awful? (2, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682671)

Considering that the site's about peoples' insides, shouldn't that be "offal"?

web 3.0? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23682673)

what's that?

btw..first

Looking ahead 10 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23682675)

You don't think we'll be on Web 17.0?

Great, Web *3.0* (4, Funny)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682677)

Just what we need, more bullshit for buzzword fetishists.

Re:Great, Web *3.0* (1)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682821)

Seriously.

What, everyone gets bingo too fast on their Web 2.0 bingo cards [0bingo.com] so the next version of bingo cards needs new entries and thus is Web 3.0?

Re:Great, Web *3.0* (3, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682891)

I'm just relieved to hear that Web 4.0 is more than 10 years away...

Re:Great, Web *3.0* (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682995)

I think it jumped the shark with 2.0.

Re:Great, Web *3.0* (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682909)

If I hear some MBA start saying this I'll either stab myself in the eye with a pen or just one-up him and tell him that Web 3.0 is garbage and we should really be working toward the Web 5.0 initiative. Either way, should be a good time.

Re:Great, Web *3.0* (1)

JackPowers (58507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683349)

I was being arch.

Re:Great, Web *3.0* (3, Funny)

dhj (110274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683881)

Web 3.0? F that. iWeb 2009 Enterprise Edition is just around the corner. It will make Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 look like buzzwords from the 1990s. The the major feature enhancements of iWeb 2009 Enterprise Edition are:

A synergistic development model.
Grassroots support.
Enterprise level uptime and support (obviously).

This technology promises to create a paradigm shift in the way we think about web services.

agreed with the worst case. (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682685)

This is one of the most (potentially abused) systems I can forsee. I really don't think losing our privacy where medical records are concerned is going to help society. this just stinks. google should be ashamed.

Re:agreed with the worst case. (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682767)

This is one of the most (potentially abused) systems I can forsee. I really don't think losing our privacy where medical records are concerned is going to help society. this just stinks. google should be ashamed.

Unless this is mandated by somebody or other, you're free to post or not post whatever you want on Google health.

That's fine, but it does severely limit the usefulness of the product. As a physician, I'm not going to be inclined to spend much time looking at a highly edited version of somebody's medical history. There is a reason we ask for records from doctors or hospitals. It's far too easy to simply edit out the uncomfortable bits of your life. That of course, is perfectly within your rights, but my job is too look at the whole history, not bits and pieces.

I don't see this as taking off much in the professional sector - it may be popular in the direct-to-consumer advertising space (which is why I cynically suspect it exists), but it's too limited to be much use professionally. Not useless, but very limited.

The truly scary part is that the "10 worst" scenarios are much more likely to come true that the "10 best".

Re:agreed with the worst case. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23682969)


Unless this is mandated by somebody or other, you're free to post or not post whatever you want on Google health.

I don't see why on earth would anybody put wllingly personal health data into a limited responsibility corporation's database.

I don't even get it!

I suspect Google has other goals in its mind, maybe for example selling global health management systems to governments...?

Re:agreed with the worst case. (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683049)

If you are indeed a physician, where are you? I ask because here in the US there is absolutely no wau any physician I've ever met would take the time to read my entire medical history, because there is no way an insurance company would pay them to do it.

I've seen large parts of mine and most of seems worthless to me. Lots of redundancy, lots of unreadable scratching. Medications and treatments that didn't work but contain no follow up that would communicate that.

And I'm not very old and I've been in relatively good health my entire life.

but you're an amateur (4, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683425)

You're thinking that it takes a physician the same time to read through your history and pluck out the important stuff that it would take you, a complete amateur with nearly zero understanding of how medicine works.

That's as logical as thinking that it would take Linus Torvalds as long to understand a kernel patch as J. Random User who's never coded a line in his life. Or that your car mechanic needs to carefully listen to every sound your jalopy makes to know whether it needs a valve job. Or that the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic would have to get out a tuning fork and go carefully around to listen to each of his 150 musicians to know whether the orchestra is playing in tune.

Re:agreed with the worst case. (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683539)

If you are indeed a physician, where are you? I ask because here in the US there is absolutely no wau any physician I've ever met would take the time to read my entire medical history, because there is no way an insurance company would pay them to do it.

I'm in Alaska, come up and visit. Bring your harpoon....

"Taking the time to read your entire medical history" may or may not be particularly relevant. If you are young and healthy without significant ongoing issues, it may be perfectly unnecessary. I likely don't care about the details of your tonsilectomy at age 6 (I might, however, if you had a significant anesthetic reaction).

But you bring up a good point that's generally obfuscated in these debates: You may not want every detail of a person's medical history at any given time. Sometimes you do. Having to wade through tons of extraneous detail makes it easy to miss important tidbits. Getting a 200 page printout from a 6 day hospitalization with everything including the janitor's notes doesn't help me much. Putting that in machine readable format helps me maybe a bit. What we don't have is an underlying, consistent framework for electronic medical records that's used by everyone and has the capability to organize a huge amount of information into a generally usable format.

There are baby steps out there, but it's a huge chicken and egg problem for the field. I personally see the digitalization of medical records happening *very* slowly - over the next 20 years or so. And that's a feature, not a bug folks. There are absolutely huge societal issues to be dealt with before we give some uber-governmental department the holy grail of databases. I'd rather have the current fragmented system then allow every government and corporate entity start data mining for whatever purpose of the week they feel important (or profitable).

Re:agreed with the worst case. (2, Funny)

charlesj68 (1170655) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683961)

I'm in Alaska, come up and visit. Bring your harpoon....
I tried. TSA was not amused.

Re:agreed with the worst case. (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683985)

Alaska is great. I usually make a trip or 2 there every year to hunt.

I can see how the fragmentation helps protect the data, but I'm not sure whether the benefits outweigh the risks. I'd like it if an ambulance crew could pull my records up in some protable terminal and see "Allergic to Sulfa" in a prominent position.

As it is, if I forget or can't communicate that or whatever else, it would probably never be known because the last time I was given sulfa I was about 6 years old and I lived in Angola (Africa). I imagine the records from that hospital visit are long gone, I know the hospital is.

Certainly I wouldn't want my records to be available to the public in trade for that, but we are communicating most of this stuff via fax machines as it is. A motivated party could probably get hold of it anyway. Only recently has the US put any teeth into laws to keep it private, especially for anyone who might be peripherally involved, like most employers outside the healthcare industry.

But if you take the time to go over medical records, even just to sift the important from the trivial, I applaud you. My experience indicates that that doesn't happen often.

Re:agreed with the worst case. (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683987)

As a physician, I'm not going to be inclined to spend much time looking at a highly edited version of somebody's medical history

And considering HIPPA, you would be in deep doo doo if you posted anyone's info (you know that, of course, but others here may not)

What I would like for MY doctor to do would be to give me a CD of my medical records when I visit him. I'm 56, most of my medical records simply no longer exist. Like everyone else, doctors retire and records get lost.

But I don't want it on Google. I want it in my hand so if my doctor retires, dies, or his office is destroyed by a fire or flood or tornado I can still have the records to present to a new guy.

Re:agreed with the worst case. (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683129)

Its all optional, you are not forced to enter your health care information.

Meaningless buzzwords run amok (2, Funny)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682695)

Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 apps are possible


Web 3.0? That's just silly.

Re:Meaningless buzzwords run amok (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683079)

So was web 2.0.

Re:Meaningless buzzwords run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683979)

Silly, but still possible.

Web 4.0 apps are even possible, too! I think the only thing holding us back is that 3.0 comes first.

Who knows? (1)

aceofspades1217 (1267996) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682697)

This sure does open up a world of possibilities...for better or for worse.

You gotta hand it to google though they never stop trying!

I <3 Gmail and google email hosting for domains.

Oh Hell (5, Funny)

Target Practice (79470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682711)

Web 3.0? What is that supposed to be? A LAMP application hooked up to a cage of weasels?

Re:Oh Hell (5, Funny)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682833)

Correct. Except, the cage is also on rails.

Re:Oh Hell (2, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683897)

Don't forget that it has to use the Wisdom of Clowns.

Weasels (1)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682983)

Finally, a use for the marketing department! They can power the LAMP application!

At least until PETA complains it's cruel to the application...

[badum-ching]

Re:Oh Hell (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683099)

A LAMP application hooked up to a cage of weasels?

Given the subject of the story, maybe we can call it GASLAMP? (GAS=Google AJAX Something...)

Re:Oh Hell (1)

hamvil (1186283) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683161)

Web 3.0? What is that supposed to be? A LAMP application hooked up to a cage of weasels?
I do not know what Web 3.0 will be, but Web 4.0 will be read on clay tablets.

Re:Oh Hell (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683373)

It's supposed to be Semantic Web. One buzzword to fund all our AI research, and in the darkness, bind them.

The ideas are cool (4, Insightful)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682719)

But that doesn't mean they're good. Diet monitoring? Try this [freshmeat.net] , or any other free web service that does it *without* needing your medical history. Fitness Monitoring? Doesn't Wii Fit do this? How about a simple spreadsheet? Travel? Is it that hard to look at The Weather Channel [weather.com] before you leave?

Honestly, this just sounds like candy-coating a terrible idea so that people will buy into it. None of the ideas on that page are lacking a non-Google implementation assuming you're not too lazy to do some footwork.

Then again, if you are too lazy, maybe whatever ill effects you receive from using Google's service are deserved...

Re:The ideas are cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683867)


I understand your point about using simple techniques to achieve the same monitoring results. I find though that a well designed, data-packed tool like Polar [polarusa.com]
provide a great way to track personal improvement over time. If google can consume output from devices like this, I would consider using google services. I've used this device for 4 years and built up a significant dataset on my fitness performance. Reviewing this with a professional may provide ways to improve my workouts.

This will help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23682731)

Facebook Fred adds an application that displays his STD test status as a badge on his social media profile pages. At some colleges, the fad is banned because some badges are counterfeit. Third-party testing firms spring up to deliver authenticated results, often to mobile phones.
Thus a new division of Verisign is spawned: Virusign.

Great - or awful? (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682747)

Well then, I'm happy - or sad for them.

Re:Great - or awful? (1)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682819)

Ideally they would have been for good or for awesome.

Re:Great - or awful? (1)

skeeto (1138903) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683477)

With apologies to Colbert,

Google Health Open Platform: great platform, or greatest platform?

worst case scenario? (4, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682823)

From the worst case scenarios:

PUBLIC HEALTH

Anonymized Google Health data is mined by Pleasantville public health officials to chart wellness patterns and develop health policy. Government commissions use the stats as the basis for regulating smoking, trans-fats, sugar and alcohol. Households with strong wellness metrics are eligible for tax rebates.
Sounds like a good idea to me. People with unhealthy lifestyles cost communities and bigger units (states, federal govt) a lot of money in emergency services, medicare costs, etc. I welcome the idea that those with healthy lifestyles shouldn't be subsidizing those with unhealthy lifestyles. Plus, there is then an obvious economic incentive to become healthier.

Seems like a win-win to me.

Re:worst case scenario? (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683007)

You missed the part where they dispatch the T-888 to the guy who ate the hamburger.

Re:worst case scenario? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683113)

The thing about health is -- it's not always your damn fault if you fall ill. You'll understand when you get cancer, even if you had had a "healthy lifestyle" beforehand. You just can't control everything that has an impact on your health.

Re:worst case scenario? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683577)

Yeah - my dad smoked for 45 years and he got cancer. I never smoked a day in my life and I got lung cancer too. Do I get a tax break?

Re:worst case scenario? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683115)

A tax incentive for a not engaging in a behavior could be viewed as a tax on a behavior. Of course tobacco and alcohol are already heavily taxed and much of that money goes to the general fund so the unhealthy lifestyles are actually subsidizing the healthy lifestyles now.
 

Re:worst case scenario? (2, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683131)

I welcome the idea that those with healthy lifestyles shouldn't be subsidizing those with unhealthy lifestyles. Plus, there is then an obvious economic incentive to become healthier.
Maybe I'm just naive, but it seems to me that the *only* way to prevent healthy people from having to subsidize unhealthy people is to (1) allow health care providers to refuse to treat unhealthy people, AND (2) make everybody pay for their own health care. Anything less than that will involve some hidden subsidization via taxes, etc. (Please note I'm not saying I think it should work that way, just that subsidization is always going to be part of health care).

Also, sometimes bad health has nothing to do with having an unhealthy lifestyle. It seems to me that "giving an obvious economic incentive to become healthier" will also have the unintended consequence of economically punishing people who got an unlucky roll of the genetic dice.

Re:worst case scenario? (2, Interesting)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683151)

And from the best case scenarios:

SCHOOL RECORDS
The Turner Twins' immunization records are forwarded to their school each September. Throughout the year, their schoolmates' anonymized records are linked to the school to keep track of ear infections, strep throat, lice and sports injuries. Schools publish aggregate wellness data to attract new students, and education watchdogs lobby for funding based on overall student health indices.
School funding based on how often the children get ill? No, thanks.

INSURANCE
Trader Ted shops for insurance by selectively releasing his Google Health record on-line. He pays for regular care through a Health Savings Account, but health insurance companies bid for his catastrophic coverage based on his authenticated medical history, diet and exercise records.
No mention of what happens to someone with a disease though.

Re:worst case scenario? (2, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683183)

I welcome the idea that those with healthy lifestyles shouldn't be subsidizing those with unhealthy lifestyles
You should drop your health insurance then. Or at least get into an HDHP.

Or go to work for a drug company, or a healthcare provider. They see an economic incentive in keeping people in poor health.

Re:worst case scenario? (4, Insightful)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683251)

What's next? Only approved food may be sold? Perhaps any non-vegan food is subject to confiscation and the owners subject to arrest?

Maybe we can ban alcohol nationally, since that worked so well last time.

Oh, I know. Mandatory exercise. Not running fast enough? Well, attack dogs are cheaper that what you're costing medicare, so enough with your rights.

The idea the economics of health care must trump individual rights leads to complete regulation and control of everyone's lives as a "cost saving measure". It's totalitarianism.

But I suspect you know that, since your sig line seems to indicate you're trolling.. if so, well done.

Oblig. Demolition Man quotes (1)

cparker15 (779546) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683807)

John Spartan: Get me a Marlboro.
Alfredo Garcia: Yes, of course... [pause] What's a Marlboro?
John Spartan: A cigarette. Any cigarette.
Lenina Huxley: Um, smoking is not good for you, and it has been deemed that anything not good for you is bad, hence illegal. Alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, meat...
John Spartan: Are you shitting me?
Computer: John Spartan, you are fined one credit for violation of the verbal moralities code.
John Spartan: What the hell is that?
Computer: You are fined one credit...
Lenina Huxley: Bad language... chocolate, gasoline, uneducational toys, and anything spicy. Abortion is also illegal but so is pregnancy if you don't have a license.

=====

John Spartan: Do you have the salt?
Lenina Huxley: Salt is not good for you, hence, it is illegal.

think it through a little more (3, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683253)

You think? Hmmm. How about someone in government realizes that AIDS costs the public treasury a huge amount of money, so they start penalizing a gay lifestyle? Or being unmarried, which shortens up your life? Or amusing yourself rock-climbing or bicycle racing, which are more dangerous than going to the gym and riding a stationary bicycle to nowhere?

More plausibly, how about someone in government thinks that lifestyle X is bad for you, and starts handing out tax penalties and rebates accordingly -- but he's wrong. Not like we've ever had any health fads that turned out to be nonsense, right? And no government bureaucrat would dream of making decisions when he doesn't really have enough information to make a good one, right?

Re:think it through a little more (1)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683625)

On this:

More plausibly, how about someone in government thinks that lifestyle X is bad for you, and starts handing out tax penalties and rebates accordingly -- but he's wrong.


I think you nailed the problem with totalitarianism.

For an example, take the bureaucrat working for an elected official. The bureaucrat comes out with some boneheaded rule about each citizen must not eat meat as it's very unhealthy.

Once symptoms of B12 deficiency [wikipedia.org] start showing up, there's at least a chance the elected official will respond to public outcry, lest the next election not go so well.

On the other hand, if there are no elections then whatever inane policy is out there can be maintained forever. Obviously it's not that the policy is wrong ( since that would require the government to admit it made a mistake ) but that the people aren't implementing it correctly. Like collectivism in the former soviet union:

Despite the expectations, collectivization led to a catastrophic drop in farming productivity, which did not regain the NEP level until 1940. The upheaval associated with collectivization was particularly severe in Ukraine, and the heavily Ukrainian adjoining Volga regions, a fact which has led many Ukrainian scholars to argue that there was a deliberate policy of starving the Ukrainians (see Holodomor for more information). The number of people who died in the famines is estimated at between three and ten million in Ukraine alone, not counting the adjoining regions. The best estimate is that in the whole USSR there were 5â"6 million excess deaths.

Re:worst case scenario? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683347)

I think the healthiest lifestyle could be achieved by putting people on treadmills (like hamsters) and feeding them through IVs. Anyone who doesn't live like this should be punished

Re:worst case scenario? (1)

non (130182) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683369)

i'm afraid its not that simple. your comment seems to have overlooked some of the other factors that contribute to health, such as; lead, asbestos, and other types of industrial pollution.

this system that you consider a 'win-win' is actually a more tightly controlled authoritarian system than the one in which you currently live. the only practical advantage here would be for the HMOs and insurance companies. they would be better able to price coverage.

i don't think it would require a great deal of imagination to imagine how that could evolve into outright eugenics. based on the purest of libertarian and capitalist principles, but nevertheless eugenics.

Re:worst case scenario? (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683883)

Another overlooked factor: heredity and genetic mutation.

Re:worst case scenario? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683439)

People with unhealthy lifestyles cost communities and bigger units (states, federal govt) a lot of money in emergency services, medicare costs, etc.

Yeah? Give me (actually, give my friends who have no health care) taxpayer-supported medical care like the civilized world has and we'll talk. Now, when you said "emergency services" I thought smokers, and wondered about how various fires start. Google helped little. But one page [marshfield.wi.us] (listed at the bottom of Google's first search page [google.com] ) suggests that we put a high tax on candles, children, geezers, and furnaces, the last of which outstrips smoking during winter months as the leading cause of fires.

I fail to see how trans-fats and sugar have anything to do with emergency services in the US. You're going to go to the hospital in an ambulance and die (unless you don't make it to the ambulance). Fat smokers just do it faster than fit nonsmokers.

I know that personal experience is discounted here at slashdot, but my teetotalling nonsmoking grandmother and her son (my uncle) illustrate the illogical nonrationality of saying smokers (and fat people) cost taxpayers money.

Grandma was born in 1903, a few months before the Wright Brothers flew their winged, powered bicycle. She neither smoked nor drank. From age 65 to age 99 she collected Social Security and went to the doctor at least monthly, paid for by Medicare.

Uncle Bill, her son, had lost a lung to tuberculosis, worked in a garbage incinerator in St Louis, drank heavily, and smoked four packs of Kools every day through his one lung. He died at age 64 without ever seeing a doctor on the Medicare dime, or collecting a penny in Social Security.

Uncle Bill didn't cost the taxpayer anything. Grandma did.

Everybody gets sick and dies. Smokers just do it earlier, and by doing so SAVE the taxpayer lots of money.

Logically, smokers should get a discount on their taxes.

Re:worst case scenario? (3, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683535)

"Seems like a win-win to me."

As long as you are on the enforcement end, and not on the end being forced to give up all of your rights as a rational being, everything will always look win-win.

Re:worst case scenario? (1)

strech (167037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683541)

Sounds like a good idea to me. People with unhealthy lifestyles cost communities and bigger units (states, federal govt) a lot of money in emergency services, medicare costs, etc. I welcome the idea that those with healthy lifestyles shouldn't be subsidizing those with unhealthy lifestyles.

This seems facially reasonable, but is related to why I will never support government funded healthcare :


It allows the government (and by extension, a majority vote) to dictate what you do with your life by making it incredibly hard to live otherwise. For example, the British Conservative party wants to bar [thisislondon.co.uk] people with "Unhealthy Lifestyles" from getting NHS care. You know, the care they pay for. Furthermore, this never has any sane relation to the cost of the activity - In the UK, smoking costs 1.7 billion [labour.org.uk] and raises 8 billion [the-tma.org.uk] in excise taxes, another $2 billion in VAT. I find it unlikely that the same isn't true in the US. Plus, obesity is at least partly biological - apparently you want to punish people for things they have no control over.


Health has a great deal to do with dumb luck and actions we have no control over, even for "lifestyle diseases" that are more common with obesity, alcohol, or smoking. And getting one bad card in health can prevent you from living a healthy lifestyle. There's the surveillance implications - government is watching what you eat, how you live. There are some things that simply aren't the government's business, even if they might theoretically make emergency services more expensive. Front end taxes (on cigarettes, alcohol) are fine, if probably too high since they're an easy political sell; lifestyle monitoring is not. The government is here to serve us, not the other way around.

Re:worst case scenario? (1)

strech (167037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683659)

As a note of clarification, government subsidized healthcare (in which our tax dollars fund health care for groups of people that wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it) is a good idea - it's vulnerable to the same kind of meddling, but not to the same extent, and it targets a group of people that really need the help.

Re:worst case scenario? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683675)

I think it is a good idea too. It would be better than taking 'random' sampling for their medical research.

Even better is if I would only see advertisements for the conditions I have. I don't need to be bombarded by drug ads I have no use for.

Careful of the slippery slope (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683731)

You are thinking about health records in the sense that someone smokes a pack a day and shouldn't get the same paybacks on their care as other people. I applaud that, in terms of smoking, but in terms of everything else, you are dead wrong.

Some people are overweight because they eat too much and don't exercise enough. Others are overweight because they (truthfully) have a glandular problem. Some, like my sister, are the result of the epileptic drugs she takes which lower her metabolism. Should these later classes be penalized?

Also, penalties don't often work in situations like this. Make something look like an incentive, however, and it will work.

A federal law should be passed that information in these records and records like them cannot be used to create laws regulating state or federal health care systems.

Of course it is awful (1)

iXiXi (659985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682869)

Has anyone ever seen Logan's Run? I am just waiting for my little RFID 'crystal' to be implanted so that I may authenticate to the Big Brother system. This is just one more step in the erosion of our privacy. When Homeland Security and CDC folks determine that they need access to your google health records, how quickly they will institute health care reform disease prevention legislation to force you to do things with your body against your better judgment. "Your gov't and your health care provider have determined that you must conform to this medical procedure to ensure that you are not posing a risk to the financial and physiological wellness of the nation." "If you do not comply, your children will be taken by social services for not having risky vaccinations and you will be criminally charged."

better get ready then (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683597)

When national health care arrives, as it will shortly, if the elections this November turn out the way they look like they will, then the government is going to be your health-care provider. There will be no need for passing actual legislation to force you to conform to any particular medical procedure. That can just be decided by the President, who, as head of the Executive Branch, is in ultimate charge of all national government agencies.

In Other News (3, Interesting)

had3l (814482) | more than 6 years ago | (#23682893)

Scientists are baffled by the realization that most things that matter are either Good - Or Bad.

Wake me when KDE4 is actually usable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683031)

Is 4.1 supposed to be the actual usable release, or have they shifted it to 4.2 now?

Their best case is terrible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683055)

I don't want any of that -- ever.

Huh? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683165)

What are they talking about? Even the "best case" scenarios sounded worst-case to me.

Bleah (1)

Indigo (2453) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683187)

I don't want MY health data "set free"...

E-Records and good thing but... (3, Insightful)

WamBam (1275048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683245)

As someone who deals with paper medical records all day, I welcome standardized electronic medical records. Not only would e-records be portable, they would also allow for greater continuity of care between healthcare providers. Obviously, security is an issue and I'd like to see more measures taken to ensure that our medical records are protected. As for the possibility of these records raising insurance premiums I think the best way around this is to create a national healthcare plan. I would think that in countries where there is national healthcare services, electronic medical records would be of great benefit since it's inevitable that such a large beaucratic undertaking would need centralized patient information. I would take issue with basing rates on people with healthier lifestyles. There are many in this country that aren't living healther lifestyles due to socio-economic factors. People that live in in poorer areas don't always have access to proper healthcare, are often not educated in the ways of maintaining health and don't have access to nutritional foods.

Web 3.0? (0, Offtopic)

zukinux (1094199) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683261)

I think we had enough with web 2.0, there are some people who just want to laugh on the world and invent buzz words and laugh any time someone else but them uses it.
Web 3.0? what would that be, object oriented HTML? LOL

Is it considered spam... (1)

Kookus (653170) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683315)

When you start getting more emails for Viagra after you've been diagnosed by your doctor for having ED?

If Things Get Serious...? (4, Insightful)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683567)

From the "Good Things" article...

Ready to take their relationship to the next level, lovers Romeo and Juliet share STD status reports through their Google Health accounts. If things get serious, they'll open up their entire files to each other and compare genetic data when contemplating children.
This doesn't seem like such a great thing to me. Here's the scenario I see...

Romeo and Juliet share STD data. They are both clean (or so the record says). Great. They can now enjoy sex with each other.

Then, over time, they decide that this relationship is really a great thing and they want to start looking into marriage. They get married. Everybody is happy.

Now that they're married (because nobody would be stupid enough to share this type of data BEFORE marriage...would they?), they share their genetic information with each other as they are talking about children. But, what's this?! Juliet sees that Romeo has a high propensity for Down Syndrome (or any other "disease" - take your pick). Well, this isn't good.

So, instead, Juliet decides to get a divorce and go on her merry way.

The End

Re:If Things Get Serious...? (1)

JackPowers (58507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683633)

I wonder if this gets into pre-nuptual agreements. The marriage contract is dependent on certain test metrics, or the size of the post-nup settlement is pro-rated against the ending health record.

Re:If Things Get Serious...? (1)

SnapShot (171582) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683647)

This probably sounds perfectly reasonable to some. According to the "marriage is for heterosexuals only" crowd, the only purpose for marriage is to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. If you can't raise healthy children then that would be an appropriate reason to seek a different partnership.

This is not a position I agree with. My marriage is a partnership that transcends our desire to procreate. But, there are some who want to define marriage so specifically.

In other news (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683573)

Tomorrow it will rain - or not.

Mental health? (1)

SnapShot (171582) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683595)

It's interesting that none of the "best case" scenarios deal positively with mental health but many of the "worst case" scenarios are based on a persons mental health records being revealed to the outside world. Are mental health diseases still so stigmatized that there could be no good to come from this?

re: health insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683615)

it's already bad enough that we allow the internet to expose our personal lives so much so that an employer can google your name and possibly dig up dirt on your social behavior (i.e. myspace, facebook, etc.). Now, insurance companies can keep track of your dietary habits and find yet another reason to deny you their service and jack up your insurance rates. Knowledge is power ... but it's always a dangerous tool when possessed by the wrong person(s).

Web 3.0 (-1, Offtopic)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683671)

Web 1.0 was sorely disappointing. I'm waiting for at least Web 3.1 for workgroups before I'm willing to take another look at it.

worst idea ever. (2, Interesting)

lawn.ninja (1125909) | more than 6 years ago | (#23683863)

I wish I could say more, but... This is the worst idea ever. It is also one of the biggest money pits. No hospital I've ever worked for would let control of that data go. We just had a long drawn out battle with one of our vendors about that. 2 years later they still don't have access to our data.

Good not that different from Bad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23683995)

Is it just me, or do teh best and worst cases seem almost identical?

Take the sex examples:

Best Possible Thing - Romeo and Juliet share STD information after getting to know each other, before having sex.

Worst Possible Thing - Lonesone Larry freely decides to share his STD information with prospective dates.

There isn't that much difference. And while we might think Larry's decision is stupid, he might have a good reason for it.

The same goes for some of the other issues.
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