Search giant Google launched Google Health and announced major industry partners on Thursday, aiming to be the Intuit for personal health care, where people can access all their health information in one spot.

“Why would Google be here?” Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said during a keynote speech at the Health Information Management Systems Society trade show, which he said was not one the company has normally attended. “What’s the most important search I could do?”

The answer: health. Nearly one out of two Americans has a chronic health condition, he said. Meanwhile, people are already using the Web to get information, including one man, who told Google a search for heart attack symptoms on Google led him to call an ambulance and saved his life, Schmidt said.

eric schmidt

“We’re going to partner with leaders in health care to cross-connect…and apply the principles of the Internet” to improve the industry, he said. “The first principle is, it’s the user’s data. The data follows the consumer wherever they go” when they change doctors or insurers.

Currently, there are more than 200 personal health record systems that are closed or tethered to a particular health system, he said.

Google Health aims to untether the 2 billion X-rays taken in the U.S. each year, 62 million CAT scans, and other health data, and put them all online for the patients to access.

Future partners include major hospitals, pharmacies, and insurers, including Walgreen, Aetna, Wal-Mart Stores, the University of California at San Francisco, the American Heart Association, Quest Diagnostics, Long’s Drugs, the American Medical Association, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University.

Google turned to experts in the field in creating Google Health and formed a health advisory council that included Dean Ornish of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Molly Coye of HealthTech, Paul Tan of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and Sharon Terry of the Genetic Alliance.

A Google employee who is also an emergency room doctor demonstrated Google Health, which was previewed at Google’s booth at the HIMSS show.

The system stores all the health records of a patient and enables users to import records from different health provider systems, as well as search for doctors and get information on conditions from Google Scholar, discussion groups, and other sources.

Via C-net