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.

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