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Saturday, March 14, 2015
How Mayo's "Dr. Google" Deal Disrupts Medicine
By Michael Millenson
“Dr. Google” has joined the Mayo Clinic, quietly signaling a powerful disruption for all of medicine.
Back in 1997 Iwrote: “The information age is to medicine as the Protestant Reformation was to the Catholic Church.” The Church didn’t disappear when information once held tightly by the priesthood became widely available, but religion changed forever.
In that context, Mayo’s agreement to produce clinical summaries under its name for common Google medical searches is like a medieval pope happily handing out Bible translations. The mission of the most-used search engine on the planet is to make the world’s information “universally accessible and useful.” Mayo, in contrast, has for decades been a global symbol of doctor-knows-best. Recommending a Google search “as the first stop for those needing health information,” in the words of a Mayo physician executive, represents a true paradigm change.
About 5 million patients nationwide currently have electronic access to open notes. Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a few other institutions are letting patients make additions and corrections to what they call “OurNotes.” Not surprisingly, many doctors remain mortified by this medical sacrilege.