Last June, Google announced that it was pulling the plug on Google Health, a service online that allowed users to keep track of their health records. As someone who skips around the world as much as I do and who has had hospitals misplace her files a few times, the launch of this service had been a great way for me to manage my information no matter where I found myself. I was sad to see it go, but nowhere as sad as I would have been if I hadn't gotten a reminder message about downloading my information before they pulled the plug on it.
"Health records" via Shutterstock.
The doors officially close on the first of January, 2012, limiting functionality on the service to downloading a user's data in ZIP format, transferring the information to another service and deleting one's account. Though Google will allow users to download their data for an additional year after that before permanently deleting all the content on Google Health, after the first of January, a user will no longer be able to view, enter, edit or print their data. It is uncertain whether Google will limit or discontinue a user's ability to transfer their profile on Google Health to another service, as one can currently do.
If you have information on Google Health, go to health.google.com and enter your Google ID and password.
The main menu bar offers several selections.
Under the "Print" option on the meny, you will find an option to print a wallet card or a profile section. Choose to print a profile section, a window will open allowing you to choose to print all sections, or any specific section.
Under "Download," you will be given the choice to download your health records in several formats:
- An easy to print PDF file with all profile data.
- An industry-standard Continuity of Care Record (CCR) XML file that can be imported into other personal health record tools such as Microsoft HealthVault.
- Comma-separated value (CSV) files that can be imported into spreadsheets and database programs.
- HTML and XML versions of the original data sent and contained in your profile from other providers.
- A ZIP file containing all profile data in all of the above formats.
In this same drop-down menu, Google Health also offers the opportunity for users to transfer their information to another service. Currently, the only service that appears to be available for such a transfer is Microsoft HealthVault. For information about how to move your data over to another service, go to this Google Support article.
Make sure you do not delete your profile before checking to make sure the transfer was successful or that all your information has downloaded and the files are complete. Save the downloaded files in a safe location. If you have issues with downloads, try to download the files again. For information on how you can keeping using the profile data you have downloaded after Google Health is gone, see this article.
Once you have finished downloading and verifying that the information is secure, click on the notification in yellow at the top of your profile. At the bottom of the information on the page, you will see a button that reads "Continue closing your Google Health account." Click on this button.
On the following page, read the information, check the box stating "I confirm that I have downloaded and verified copies of all data that I need from my Google Health account, and I understand that my data will be deleted from Google's servers when I close my account" and click the button to continue to the next step.
This page will show you whether you have any profiles that are linked with external services or providers. Review the information here and then click "continue to the next step."
On this last screen, you will be asked to verify that you want to close your account. Once you do this, deletion will begin immediately and there will be no way for you to access your files, so be sure that you’re ready. Clicking "Delete profiles" will log you out of Google Health.
That's it. It is my hope that Google will reintroduce this service once online medical record-keeping becomes a more popular practice. In the meantime, best of luck with the alternatives you find.
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