Friday, February 06, 2009

IBM and Google Connect with Continua to Generate and Store Personal Health Records

Andy Greenberg’s Letting Google Take Your Pulse story of 5/5/2009 for Forbes magazine was one of the first of more than 100 articles and numerous blog posts about an agreement between Google Health and IBM to use IBM software and the Continua Health Alliance standards to stream data from personal medical devices to personal health records (PHRs) stored in a Google Health Account.

ZDNet’s Dana Blankenhorn takes journalists and bloggers to task for their reporting of the IBM-Google Health agreement in his IBM-Google deal good, lazy media bad post of 2/5/2009. Dana writes:

And no cheers to the media for how they reported on it. Google Now Knows Your Heart Rate? Please. Letting Google Take Your Pulse? Spare me.

If you can trust Google to save your e-mails (and you can) then you can trust the technology behind this system. It’s not Google taking your pulse anyway, it’s a device which follows the Continua standards. It’s IBM’s software that is doing the heavy lifting — Google is just acting as a repository for your data.

He also gave a hat-tip to Microsoft’s HealthVault:

I’m really proud  C|Net got the headline right. I think it’s important to note here that Microsoft can easily take advantage of this advance in its HealthVault site, merely by supporting the IBM code through Continua.

Microsoft “supporting the IBM code through Continua?” When pigs fly.

The following earlier items were moved from Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 2/2/2009+ on 2/5/2009 due to length.

CNNMoney’s non-bylined IBM Teams With Google and Continua Health Alliance to Move Data From Remote Personal Medical Devices Into Google Health and Other PHRs story of 2/5/2009 appears to be a copy of IBM’s same-named press release of 2/4/2009, which the story doesn’t link.

The IBM press release draws on but doesn’t link to what appears to be a related Continua’s Development of Continua Compliant Personal Health Products and Services Begin - Press Release of 2/3/2009 from the 2nd Personal Health Symposium being held in Tokyo on 2/3 to 2/4/2009.

IBM includes a link to, but I didn’t see a Google press release on this topic as of 2/5/2009 4:00 PM PST. has a link to the CNN story. (Google is a member of the Continua Health Alliance.)

Marshall Kirkpatrick’s IBM, Google Health Aim to Blow Medical Records Wide Open ReadWriteWeb post of 2/5/2009 has additional background on the story.

Microsoft’s was conspicuous by its absence from any article or press release. That’s not too surprising in the light of Microsoft’s Family Health Guy’s (seannol’s) answer to “Why haven't we joined Continua?” question in his Watch out for the black helicopters… post of 10/31/2008. His answer appears to be that Continua adopted patent licensing barriers to adopting the Windows for Portable Devices proposal for personal medical devices.

Zoli Erdos comments on Google Health & Microsoft HealthVault: the Sorry State of Health 2.0 in his 2/5/2009 post, which concludes:

Finally, a word to my fellow reviewers, media types, bloggers: It’s nice that you covered today’s Google / IBM announcement, it is important after all.  But now that you’ve reprinted the PR message and added your doubts about privacy, security – please come back to test once the services are operational.  Better yet, find somebody that actually has a relative with a lot of health problems, and have them try to use these services over a period of time.  We’ve had way to much fanfare and too little reality check on just how well these systems serve real patients with real health needs.

(An erroneous reference to being a Microsoft property was in the comments to Marshall’s article.)

I didn’t see a reference to HIPAA privacy regulations in any press release or story, nor did I find the IBM/Google/Continua axis to be the subject of any of the sessions I listed in my IBM/Tivoli Pulse 2009 Offers 13 Cloud-Computing Sessions post of 2/5/2009. This is probably due to the fact that HIPAA regulations apply to medical records generated by physicians, other licensed health practitioners and hospitals, not by patients themselves.