Google Health: the beginning or the end of ehealth as we know it?

Google announced the launch of a pilot project in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic to provide select patients access to their medical record using the Google health platform.

According to the Associated Press, Google will:

begin storing the medical records of a few thousand people as it tests a long-awaited health service that’s likely to raise more concerns about the volume of sensitive information entrusted to the Internet search leader.

The pilot project to be announced Thursday will involve 1,500 to 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic who volunteered to an electronic transfer of their personal health records so they can be retrieved through Google’s new service, which won’t be open to the general public.

Each health profile, including information about prescriptions, allergies and medical histories, will be protected by a password that’s also required to use other Google services such as e-mail and personalized search tools.

I think we’ve all known that something like this was coming. I’m just surprised that Google decided to jump directly in with such large undertaking. I would have predicted (and even suggested) starting with something a little less ambitious.  Does Google’s entry (and Microsoft’s Health Vault) change the ehealth landscape?  Is this the "tipping point" where we get to see tangible progress in ehealth that benefits patients?

Regardless, I think Google’s involvement will provide more publicity to the entire field, and also provide some additional competition to the industry. I’m curious to see how the established parties will respond.