Shocking Google Health Back to Life

I hope to use this post to motivate my good friends at Google Health into taking a much more public, visible, and proactive role in the health conversation. More importantly, it is a call to Google HQ to wake up to the opportunity within health care to leverage their current tools and technology to create a platform that others can use to enable the creation of a next generation health system.

The scene was familiar, but it didn’t take away the tragedy. A young motor vehicle accident victim was involved in a head on collision with a drunk driver. The blunt trauma to the chest had created a literal mish-mash of complex internal injuries. The ambulance crew had attempted multiple times enroute to obtain a pulse and the monitors were all flatlined from the field. They intubated the patient in the field, performed CPR enroute, and initiated a ATLS protocol which included shocking the patient en route. In the face of asystole (lack of heart movement) after blunt trauma to the chest, the indication is to literally crack the chest open (called a anterolateral thoracotomy), a serious medieval last ditch rescue effort to save a life.

My perception is that the Mack truck called Microsoft HealthVault has just run over a young upstart, Google Health, who had such a promising future. The blunt trauma has put the patient in a precarious fight for survival, and the only way out that this ER doctor can see is to crack the chest open.

I really like Missy, Roni, and crew and believe they are smart, capable, and well connected individuals who have really done some great work to get the product launched. However, I cannot for the life of me understand why Google as an organization cannot get serious about the Health care vertical. A couple of stats:

My most recent assessment of the Google Health vs. Microsoft Health

Here is my most recent assessment of the Microsoft Health vs. Google Health

It is not like Google couldn’t do some amazing things very fast. I am not just talking about Google Wave style innovation, I mean just their current assets themselves could be reassembled in short order to produce a very useful health care communication platform. They already have gmail, calendering, photos, search, documents, video, chat, and a framework from which to store/retrieve their health information. I think you could build out a mashup in no time that is immediately competitive and would be the leading “groupware” tool available. They also have all their current relationships and the interest of any health care CEO in the country.

Ironically, the reference to iGoogle (platform w/ widgets of functionality) was mentioned more than once at the Microsoft HealthVault conference. I don’t remember hearing about this at the Google conference – oh, oops – Google doesn’t have a conference.

I guess my point is that I love the innovation machine that is Google. I am just profoundly disappointed at what appears to be a lack of commitment by the organization to truly invest and innovate in the health care space. Is it a strategy question? An opportunity cost situation? Why the paralysis?

Google! The patient is dying on the table. The only thing I can see doing at this point is getting out the rib cutters.

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15 replies »

  1. The answer to health care reform is Google Care….everyone will have their vital signs monitored using implanted health chips (RFID)that will signal any problems that we might have and how they should be corrected…

  2. I think the the rite wing media is overplaying these toun hall meetings and protests on health care reform as much as they underplayed the opposition to President Bush wageing the IRAQ war from the begining. No suprise.
    In fact it should say something when most TV adds aginst health care reform are paid for by the US chamber of comers an orginasation that has goten $40 million for insurience companys to lobby aginst it. Or that many insurience companys were paying there employees bonuses and company time to go to these toun hall meetings and rase hell.

  3. I use an electronic personal health record, http://www.DYSmd.com, that is superior to both Microsoft and Google. Not only does it easily and anonymously compile your medical records, but it utilizes the information in them to produce disease risk analysis and send you medical research that is tailored to your situation, among other services like appointment and condition tracking. Rather than a platform linked to third parties, it is self-inclusive and integrated – users can input their information into a chart that is specially formulated to be useful for any doctor. This is a total health care management system that actually does break up the fragmentation that characterizes the health care system today.

  4. Arizona has a Medicare trial going on right now and Google is one of the providers of online records. I signed up, but the Center for Medicare Services somehow won’t allow me to connect to Google. I’m not sure if this is Google’s fault or Noridian, the administrator, but if no one is on top of things like this the entire online health records thing will fail.

  5. There are innovative companies that have developed rich health records products that are interoperable, multilingual, provide a myriad of health maintance and disease management capabilities, etc…. Take a look at LifeOnkey.
    This product provides 3 distinct interfaces— for physician, consumer and researcher. And the information is highly secure.
    LifeOnKey is up and running in Israel and Europe and recently launched in the US.

  6. Thanks for your input. I had a Blogger blog before it was bought by Google so in reality I got kidnapped. My admiration for Google is like my appreciation of the armed services. I know that warriors are important to the human ecosystem to keep one another in check, but when I was drafted into the military served as a medical corpsman because I was a conscientious objector.
    It’s only been since the first of June that my account got hijacked. There is still a chance that someone on staff with Google will have sympathy for me and help me recover it. It’s not a menace and whoever got the gmail account has certainly lost interest by now, having been caught and done in by the Google Police Robots.
    Since my other comment, incidentally, it picked up another follower! Now 8 followers, with daily traffic holding at 85-90.
    If I decide to leave the group I’m with and launch another one-man show, I’ll take a close look at MSN.

  7. John Ballard,
    I use Microsoft products for my blogs and websites. And I can have them integrated.
    Everytime I have a problem I get many humans to help me. Yes, that’s right! Not one, but many.
    And it’s free!!!
    I do wish Microsoft’s blog platform was easy for comments to be posted. I hope they improve that.
    The EHR Guy

  8. Google comes up with a lot of products, most of which I advocate and some that actually amaze me. I hope this is another good product that doesn’t cross any lines of privacy.

  9. One of the interesting aspects of the Silicon Valley echo chamber re Google is that you actually here something…well interesting. A well known early Google investor commented that “Google was doing too much”. That is, throwing a few too many things at the wall to see what sticks and has forgotten that there is a wall to stick too. Google has pared back and is refocusing on search, social systems, mobile, and apps.
    Google doesn’t really have the sales skill set to get into the field and deal with…sales – therefore their dropping out of radio. poor showings in dealing with big ad agencies, etc. And I think that healthcare is all about have the right sales/marketing plan and pitch to doctors, hospitals, ins. cos etc. It will take them a lot of hiring and experimentation to catch up to MS which has been selling to large ins. cos for many years…and has the gumption to get it done.

  10. I am an avid user of Google products (Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sync, etc). However, the information contained in these accounts is such that, if there was a breach of privacy or security in any of these accounts, my life would probably go on, even if I lost a couple days of time mitigating the problems.
    However, Google Health is a different beast. If the health information contained in Google health is accessed or disclosed inappropriately, an individual’s life could be impacted to a much greater degree. This is especially true given the likelihood of having at least some genetic information in your PHR in the future.
    Google has therefore left me no choice but to write blog posts that I wish I did not have to write:
    To be clear, Google is only part of the problem–HIPAA and HITECH also share some blame. Microsoft is also at fault, but at least they have a Business Associate Agreement that they will sign if a covered entity requests. Microsoft’s decision to sign a BAA was in essence an invitation to be regulated, at least in part, by HIPAA and HITECH.
    Given consumers increasing concern about their online privacy, Google Health is going to have to do more in order to convince consumers to upload their most personal and potentially devastating information. The “Do no evil” mantra simply will not suffice.

  11. Google has a very different marketing strategy to Microsoft. MS spend big bucks with conferences, partners and Govt relations. Google largely eschews this approach preferring consumer lead activity.
    Who will win in the PHR/EMR space? You would have to say Microsoft has a natural advantage in the EMR space while Google has the advantage around PHR. However, one would be naive to expect this will just be a battle between these two giants.
    For all the hype I think most consumers couldn’t care less about a PHR at the moment but Government is poised to spend/waste mega bucks on the infrastructure of interoperability and systems that may/may not lead to better health outcomes.
    If the analysis above is right then it would appear that Google is at risk of underinvesting in health if it plans to be a significant player.

  12. ‘Scuse me, but I have a bone to pick with Google. This is not germane to the discussion, but Google’s management of Blogger is apparently being done by robots, not people.
    My gmail account was hijacked two months ago (my fault, mea culpa and all that) but in the aftermath I have not been able to contact a single human being at Google to help me recover. My five year old blog with over three thousand posts is still out there in a Google purgatory cloud and I can’t touch it. It still comes up in searches and has picked up two additional “followers” if you can believe it. Sitemeter still functions and last I checked was tracking eighty or ninety hits daily. I’m sure people have tried to leave comments but there is no way for me to reply. I gave up and joined a group blog run by Typepad. I’m hurt, angry and pissed.
    Sorry for the outburst but Google is still a sore subject with me. (/rant)
    BTW, I was at the cusp of putting all my eggs into the Google docs and spreadsheet basket, but my experience made me wary as heck. What if instead of an old man’s blog that was my HEALTH RECORD? Now THAT’S a scary thought!

  13. Scott,
    Great narration and filled with humor.
    I think Microsoft has taken the lead this time.
    Not only with the consumer space but through Amalga UIS they have penetrated the healthcare provider domain as wealth. Their holistic approach will guarantee that they will become the healthcare standard as they did in the business world with their Office Suite of products.
    The EHR Guy

  14. Scott. I think you’re being a touch melodramatic here (and let’s not encourage more rival conferences!!). Google does things in a different way to MSFT, but it tends to fix stuff after a while. Blogger was rubbish for 2 years after they bought it–now it works well. Docs is getting better and better. Wave is interesting, and someone somewhere in their 20% is probably doing the mashup you suggest. And most importantly of all I remind you that despite Bing/Yahoo/MSFT 70% of the Internet comes through that friendly home page in Mountain View…
    So I think it’s great for us all to keep poking them, but I’m keeping the faith–for now at least!

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