Google launched Google Health last week and has now followed up the announcement with a plan to help US patients gain control of their medical records.

The website is now working with doctors' groups, pharmacies and labs to help them securely share sensitive health data, and says it has already signed deals with hospitals and companies including medical tester Quest Diagnostics Inc, health insurer Aetna Inc, Walgreens and Wal-Mart Stores Inc pharmacies.

Reuters explains that its password-protected web service stores health records on Google computers, with a medical services directory that lets users import doctors' records, medical histories and test results.

But it will also be open, to a certain degree, to patients allowing them to schedule appointments or reorder a prescription.

Schmidt said it would likely be a few months before Google Health is offered more widely.

This system could rival Microsoft's HealthVault and Revolution Health, a company backed by former AOL Chairman Steve Case.