Sunday, June 26, 2011

RIP Google Health

The announced demise of Google Health was greeted by industry observers as a long overdue termination of a service that had simply failed to catch on with the general public. That Google Health was lagging Microsoft's HealthVault is no surprise: commentators had consistently ranked Microsoft's offering above Google's service.

Whether this is simply a failure of Google to develop a viable business model or a larger failure of the PHR world  is a more interesting question and one that will be debated endlessly in the weeks to come.

Here are two perspectives: the first from John D. Halamka recognizing the role Google Health played in raising public awareness of PHRs. Halamka writes:
Google Health is truly innovative and broke new ground when it created interfaces to hospitals, labs, and pharmacies in 2008. I was there at the beginning and can definitively state that it was Google's reputation and vision that broke down the political barriers keeping data from patients
The counter view is from HISTalk that claims Google Health's failure was due to the lack of appreciation of unique requirements of Healthcare.The author states:
Google predictably did what its know-it-all technology company predecessors have done over the years: dipped an arrogant and half-assed toe into the health IT waters; roused a loud rabble of shrieking fanboy bloggers and reporters (many of them as light on healthcare IT experience as Google) who instantly declared it to be the Second Coming that would make all decades-old boring vendors instantly obsolete or subservient to the Googleplex
 My own reaction to this is that no matter what view you take on the merits of Google's strategy, PHRs play a critical role in getting consumers to own their own healthcare choices. This is in a limited way comparable to how consumers must own their financial choices and can benefit from tools (such as to manage their decisions. From that perspective, the demise of Google Health is a step backwards for Healthcare 2.0.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Where are we headed?

As Stage 2 of Meaningful Use takes shape, I've been wondering whether the Healthcare IT revolution will indeed achieve its main objective: improving patient care while keeping costs in check. The answer that seems to emerge, based on many conversations and much reading, is "not yet." There's little doubt that the Healthcare IT revolution, driven by Federal funding, is driving IT adoption. What is less clear is whether this is on a trajectory that leads to better patient care and lower costs.

What seems more likely, like we've seen in other technological phase shifts, is that the first revolution will create something of a bubble that will eventually pop. Based on the infrastructure work done during the first bubble, a new revolution will rise and eventually deliver the goods. We saw it with the internet. It happened with ATMs (until ATMs started accepting checks, they didn't have as much of impact on costs). It seems the likely path for Healthcare.

Bubbles aren't inherently bad. They provide an opportunity to break old barriers, develop new innovations, test business models. But bubbles pop and cause a lot of collateral damage along the way.

Agree? Disagree?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Meaningful Use Update

Late last year, a College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME) survey indicated that confidence in meeting meaningful use deadlines had dropped in the months following the launch of the program. Previous reports were a lot more optimistic putting the number of first year adopters at 28%.

It is important to note that the overall results have not changed: even with the new survey, almost 90% respondents expect to meet Stage 1 criteria by 2012. In a large change management exercise, it is common to see early optimism shift as the realities of implementation take hold. That said, the report is likely to spur additional debate on the extent of the impact of HITECH funding.

Observers generally agree that Meaningful Use will drive the Healthcare IT agenda for the next few years; whether it makes a meaningful impact on the quality of care is another matter.