Friday, June 24, 2011

Google to Kill Google Health

If we needed any further confirmation that the Personal Health Record, where patients store their own personal health information, has a steep hill to climb before becoming a viable business model, the mighty Google has now signaled that they are getting out of this race altogether according to Modern Healthcare. Apparently the service will be shuttered by January 1, 2012. When a firm with more than $100 billion in cash decides to discontinue investment in a given business model that, on the surface, would appear to have strong long term potential it is worth taking note.

With the PHR model, I believe a major challenge comes from the closed nature of current EHR / EMR (electronic health records) vendors. These vendors each want their own PHR modules to be used by patients eliminating the possibility for a system like Google Health to get widespread automated data input into its patient accounts. Left without that automated information stream, patients have to manually enter the data and the average person does not see the benefit to what would result in a partial picture of the healthcare encounters and associated data at best.

This announcement comes on the heels of a recent article in the Wall Street Journal where new CEO Larry Page talked about cutting unprofitable businesses, eliminating red tape, and getting back to the agile, productive environment that made Google great to begin with.

Here is an excerpt from the WSJ article -
"Some managers believe Mr. Page will eliminate or downgrade projects he doesn't believe are worthwhile, freeing up employees to work on more important initiatives, these people said. One project expected to get less support is Google Health, which lets people store medical records and other health data on Google's servers, said people familiar with the matter."

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