With talk of a Personal Health Information Network gaining momentum, eyes are trained on the bigger digital players Google's and Microsoft's health service sites. The aim to digitize patient health records is something that Presidential Administrations have been paying lip service to for some time, but the job seems to have been picked up by these corporations. Though the goals are similar, representatives from both Google and Microsoft, quoted in CNet, seem to think its important that they are both trying to gain access to all this information. This simultaneous competition and cooperation, termed "co-optetition" might be necessary to break through medical bureaucracy, says iStockAnalyst.

Google Health profiles aim to contain the predictable data of conditions, allergies, immunizations, etc. Bad drug combinations are flagged, and test results arrive in a notifications center.

In efforts to understand how Internet users search when they are sick, Google has slightly changed results content. For instance, reports The Standard today, a search for "headache" might prompt a response that asks, "Did you search because you or someone you know has a headache? Yes/No."

This sort of additional information may help fuel improvements for services such as Google's Flu Trends that launched in April, which uses search data to track influenza epidemics. The Google Health site also offers search options, with an identical interface to the regular search page, but streamlines results to more relevant sites.

Microsoft HealthVault organizes health information with an emphasis on family health resources. Also web applications to perform more specific functions using data from the HealthVault member's record: track blood pressure and teach patients about their conditions, as with Heart 360 from American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, or Trial X from Applied Informatics, Inc.  which matches participants to clinical trials based on their personal health information.