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10/7/2009
11:36 AM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Ex-Googler Launches Startup To Deliver Personalized Health Advice

The former head of the Google Health team has launched a startup designed to allow people to get personalized medical advice on the Internet, based on their own e-health records. If it catches on, the service will accelerate the trend of people using Internet research to take charge of their own healthcare. That trend is both a help and a hindrance to healthcare providers, depending on the kind of information patients find online, and what the patients do with that information.

The former head of the Google Health team has launched a startup designed to allow people to get personalized medical advice on the Internet, based on their own e-health records. If it catches on, the service will accelerate the trend of people using Internet research to take charge of their own healthcare. That trend is both a help and a hindrance to healthcare providers, depending on the kind of information patients find online, and what the patients do with that information.The vast majority of healthcare decisions, 80% or more, aren't made by medical professionals. They're made by individuals, making their own choices about diet and exercise and managing--or not managing--chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. The new company, called Keas, is designed to help individuals take better charge of their own healthcare, by giving them access to better information, according to a report in the New York Times.

Already, surveys show that a majority of adults in America routinely scour the Internet for health information. Doctors joke that the standard second opinion of diagnosis and treatment has become a patient's Google search, with the results printed out and brought to the doctor's office.

But the Web is still mainly a vast trove of generalized health information. The ideal, health experts say, would be to combine personal data with health information to deliver tailored health plans for individuals. That is what Mr. Bosworth and his San Francisco-based company, Keas (pronounced KEE-ahs) Inc., mean to do.

Using the Keas system, for example, a person with Type 2 diabetes might receive reminders, advice on diet and exercise, questions and prompts presented on the Web site or delivered by e-mail or text messages - all personalized for the person's age, gender, weight and other health conditions.

Keas partners include Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault, and Quest Diagnostics.

The Obama administration has drafted its guidelines for producing electronic health records - patient records held by doctors and hospitals - with applications like Keas in mind. To qualify for government subsidies, the electronic records must be able to generate patient education materials that help guide care, and eventually share information with personally controlled health records of the sort offered by Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault.

Founder Bosworth previously worked at Microsoft, where he created Access, a personal database program introduced in 1992, and later worked on Internet software, including Internet Explorer and developing XML. At Google, which he joined in 2004, he worked on Gmail, Blogger, Google Docs, and other products.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).

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