Google is letting patients share electronic medical records with loved ones or care providers who may be needed to help in emergencies.
The decision to let people selectively allow others to glimpse medical profiles results from feedback it has gotten since Google Health medical records service was launched in May 2008.
"One issue we hear regularly is that people want help coordinating their care and the care of loved ones," Google product manager Sameer Samat said in a message posted at the California firm's website.
"They want the ability to share their medical records and personal health information with trusted family members, friends, and doctors in their care network."
Google Health now has a "share this profile" feature that permits chosen people to view, but not alter, online medical records.
"A few years ago, my father suffered a minor heart attack and was sent to the emergency room," Samat wrote.
"I arrived on the scene in a panic, and was asked what medications he was taking. I had no clue. If my father had a Google Health account, and had shared his profile with me, I would have been up-to-date on his current medications."
Renewable links to health records are uniquely tailored to each recipient and automatically expire after 30 days, according to Google.