It has dawned on me that personal health records – by which you can play with all your details and history on the internet – will soon be a way of life. The political, health and IT worlds all seem fairly convinced.
In an effort to get ahead of the curve I decided to sign up with all the big names.
When the IT self-care new dawn comes, I will be saved from the queue outside my GP’s crappy end-of-terrace while everyone else is still lining up to ask how to log on.
First, Google Health. I signed up, entered the necessary particulars – which were very few – and was presented with choosing from (long) lists of conditions I might have and drugs I might be on.
In the absence of anything worse I tried to enter a pollen and cat fur allergy. An option came up about pollen extracts. I have a feeling they are only interested in more serious allergies. Shouldn’t someone else know this for me?
Playing with Google Health quickly became dominated by options to link to various US healthcare providers which, were I a customer, would have allowed me to update my records with some proper information.
There was a “health butler” that monitors your diet and heart rate and so on. Some sounded helpful and they highlight untapped potential for prevention and self care.
But the multitude of options, most of which were labelled “fees apply”, also prompt images of the dystopia, real or imagined, described in some of the recent #welovetheNHS coverage.
The other big-name potential provider is Microsoft’s HealthVault. I started signing up. Microsoft knew my date of birth already. I even uploaded a picture, giving the whole process a Facebook feel, and wanted the world to read my health record.
But it wasn’t to be: “Microsoft HealthVault is not currently available in your country/region. We are working to make HealthVault available in more countries and regions, and we encourage you to try again at a later date.”
Finally, UK plc’s own solution, the National Programme for IT-developed HealthSpace. HealthSpace did not know my date of birth already, nor anything else about me.
The website is full of tools for charting my own health via weight and cholesterol and what not, and this time all for free.
You can even upgrade to a HealthSpace “advanced” account and link to your summary care record… but only if you live in the (few and far between) early adopter areas.
This is surely what the technology is all about: actually bringing together your information in one place, that can be updated (when appropriate) by professionals.
I lied and said I lived in Bolton but stopped when I had to pick a GP surgery.
There’s no telling what would have happened after that, but I have a feeling even genuine Bolton residents may, for now, be disappointed.
HealthSpace stressed: “Your local NHS will advise you if any of these new services are available in your area. Please check with your Primary Care Trust and GP Practice for further information.”