The Business of Health Care

What if Google Does It?

I’m a nerd. Instead of watching Hollywood movies, I watched the entirety of Google’s 3.5 hour keynote from their recent developer conference, Google IO. I really appreciate watching and learning from technology companies operating at spectacular scale. They put on quite a show (at least for geeks like me).

One hour and eighteen minutes (the link should take you the right spot in the video) into the keynote, Google executives unveiled new discovery and curation features for the Android Play Store for apps for teachers to use in class. Google hired a team of educational content experts to review and curate in-class apps. Google will release certified apps to a special section of the Android Play Store that educational IT staff and teachers can peruse.

Google will also provide tools for educational IT admins to centrally manage and distribute those apps throughout the school per teacher, class, grade level, and more. Google is dramatically simplifying IT management in large bureaucratic organizations that can’t attract top IT talent. This is a godsend for teachers who have wanted to deploy apps in class, but who haven’t had the necessary IT support.

This is a brilliant concept. In highly regulated, slow changing industries such as healthcare and education, the biggest barriers to adopting and integrating third-party apps into the core workflows are fear of inaccurate information and IT distribution and management challenges. Google is doing a tremendous favor for the educational system. This move will materially improve the uptake of in-class apps.

Obviously, this begs the question, “Why doesn’t Google do the same thing for healthcare?” Happtique and Healthtap recognized this need some time ago. They’re curating apps and providing IT infrastructure services to help manage and distribute those apps to employees along different job functions, roles, locations, etc.

Unfortunately, Happtique just hired a new CEO, which is never a good sign at a pre-revenue, pre-scale startup. Healthtap raised $24M to pursue other markets, but recently moved into the app curation and distribution space. We’ll see how well they fare. It’s too early to render any final judgment.

If you know anyone at Google – particularly anyone on the Android Play Store team – who can pull some strings, can you please refer them to this blog post? I’m sure that with just a little spark, Google can do for healthcare what they’re already doing for education.

Sorry Happtique and Healthtap, it looks like you’re going to be a classic case of “What if Google does it?

Kyle Samani is inpatient deployment manager at VersaSuite of Austin, TX. This post originally appeared on HISTalk Connect.

4 replies »

  1. Kyle,

    The issue is how easily it can be worked into their workflow – if they are involved in looking at the information or giving feedback somewhere along the way, the current systems don’t make it easy. Hopefully that will change as interoperability becomes more mature.

  2. Brian and Sandra

    My experiences with doctors are that they want to be able to more easily try and “prescribe” apps. Sure, not all of them do, but no physicians really seem opposed to the concept. IT may be though…

    Google has the wherewithal to make this easy for hospital IT to more easily deploy apps for hospitals.

  3. I think there’s another factor, Brian. It really requires healthcare providers to cooperate in some way, and that has not been a priority for them. It is in their interest to keep their patients dependent on their systems, hence their willingness to implement a portal where they can be tethered to their organization, and they find their methods of communicating with other providers works well enough that they don’t really have to help patients autonomous. Just an observation – I think at some point it will be in some providers’ interest to work with patient-enabling technology.

  4. Compliance, They HAD a health centered direction five years ago; remember their entrance in with the personal cloud EMR (a great idea btw)
    HIPAA and the new PPACA – shut it down. Too many lawyers, not enough pay to offset the regulations.
    They could do it – but it would require them to invest in understanding that bill. Which few players in the market are eager to do.
    Most of them are just waiting to see what new fine, fee, compliance pops up and is issued – rather than creating a stand alone system that is external to the mess.
    It could be done. They wont.