Google's new health record-sharing service has privacy advocates' hearts racing. But the benefits outweigh the risks, both in costs and potential lives saved, James Gibney argues in the Atlantic. Ready access to personal health records could prevent medical errors like incorrectly prescribed meds while saving billions in related costs.
Hacking is less of a hazard to patient privacy than plain old carelessness, and federal and state health care contractors and agencies have a poor privacy track record anyway. "Google is arguably better equipped to prevent such lapses," writes Gibney, "and more fundamentally interested in doing so, since breaches would undermine public confidence in the company and might expose it to greater regulation."