Google Health debuted yesterday, and I signed right up. Unfortunately, UCSF is not yet on electronic patient records, but my drug store, Long’s is. It was easy to link to Long’s and enter some info about me and my ailments. Subsequently I linked to the My Daily Apple health news site, and it automatically set up a custom RSS feed of articles mentioning Glioma or any of the medicines that were imported from Long’s. The site even automatically generated a warning about a particular combination of the drugs I take. Slick.
For the last couple of years (at least), I’ve been thinking about my ‘personal software strategies.’ I like Apple’s suite of free and inexpensive apps, which I much prefer to the Microsoft Office products I used for, it seems, forever. I also spent a year using Sun’s Star Office and OpenOffice.org‘s suites when I was covering the open source beat – I even wrote a 353-page book using Writer.
I’d already been experimenting with a paperless way to manage my personal records using a fast Fujitsu scanner, Adobe Acrobat and a PDF browser called Yep!, when the blizzard of paper that accompanied my cancer diagnosis all but mandated a paperless workflow, which has been at least as successful as my old paper-only record-keeping. The secret is Acrobat’s batch-OCR processing, which, combined with Apple’s Spotlight search facility makes the documents findable (unlike unfiled or misfiled paper docs).
But, increasingly, I find myself using Google to manage my affairs. Google Apps suffice for most of my documentation needs, Google Calendar keeps me organized and in sync with my spouse (and works on my iPhone) and I run all of gulker.com’s email through Gmail for its superior spam filtering. The big advantage is that everything is ‘out there’ in the Google cloud, and I can get to it from anywhere there’s a browser and a Net connection. Google Sync means my life – to the extent it’s organized as bookmarks and page histories – follows me anywhere the Net can be accessed.
There are gaps: for example, I can’t easily link all my financial information. It sits on half a dozen bank, credit card and brokerage servers, but I’m guessing this will be solved in time, too. As William Gibson famously said “the future is here already, it’s just not evenly distributed”…