Googling Health Care

As the health care industry works on establishing a national network for electronic health records (EHRs), consumers are beginning to create their own personal health records (PHRs). And retailers are getting into the act by selling PHR technology or making it freely available. For example, CVS/pharmacy, Woonsocket, R.I., has partnered with Google to give consumers free access to Google Health, which

As the health care industry works on establishing a national network for electronic health records (EHRs), consumers are beginning to create their own personal health records (PHRs).

And retailers are getting into the act by selling PHR technology or making it freely available.

For example, CVS/pharmacy, Woonsocket, R.I., has partnered with Google to give consumers free access to Google Health, which allows individuals to store and manage their health information in one central place online. CVS shoppers can send their prescription information to their Google health account. Microsoft is offering a similar online service called HealthVault.

Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh is about three months away from offering shoppers a link to Google Health, said Randy Heiser, the chain's vice president of pharmacy. “We'll try it with our [employees] first and then launch it,” he said.

Another example of PHR technology is a small USB storage device called MedFlash that stores health information and can be worn as a necklace or used a keychain, says its producer, Connectyx, Palm City, Fla. The MedFlash device is being sold by Harris Teeter and some Kroger stores.