Saturday, May 24, 2008

More on Google Health: two reasons to be wary

(For the impatient: if you read nothing else of this, be sure you read David Hamilton's Seven Reasons Google Health Is Overblown.)

As the Google Health story has fleshed out in recent days my view has become clearer and stronger. Then, yesterday at work I saw a demonstration of Google ethics that annoyed the crap out of me.

The crux of it is trust and trustworthiness. The Federal HIPAA law puts strict penalties on a provider who leaks your data, but Google's not subject to HIPAA. And their password security is really weak, unlike bank web sites.

A) Bloggers' views
B) What happened at work

My company gives Google thousands of dollars a month for Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. (We bid to have our ads displayed when someone "googles" specific phrases, such as 'online appointment software'.) Every time someone clicks one of our ads, we pay Google, regardless of whether it turns out to be a legitimate buyer. If carefully managed, it's worth the risk, and we put a spending cap on it, which we rarely reach.

Well, yesterday my PPC consultant noticed that Google just added a feature without telling anyone that will spend our unused budget to display ads for phrases we didn't bid on.

Details in this post.

I'm all in favor of modernizing healthcare, particularly making it easier to do what I want with my data. But I think it should be done by a non-profit entity, using open source software.

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