With Google pulling the plug on its personal-health-record portal, Google Health, experts say a lack of consumer interest and trust were to blame.
As Google prepares to shut down Google Health
personal-health-record portal, experts cite consumers' weak interest in
entering their own health data and a lack of faith in the services' privacy as
factors leading to the portal's demise.
health-record databases that consumers manage on their own, in contrast to EHRs
(electronic health records), which hospitals and physicians maintain.
The fall of
both Google Health and the Google Power Meter for home-energy devices was
announced June 24 in a blog post
by Aaron Brown, senior product manager
for Google Health, and Bill Weihl, Google's green-energy czar. Google Health will shut
down Jan. 1, 2012, but customers can continue to access data until Jan. 1,
was first unveiled in a speech by then-CEO Eric Schmidt at the 2008 HIMSS (Healthcare
Information and Management Systems Society) health care IT conference.
A lack of
health-data sources may have been a detriment for Google Health, compared with
Microsoft's HealthVault portal, according to Lynne Dunbrack, program director
of connected health IT strategies at IDC Health Insights.
what we saw with Google Health and the challenges of personal-health records,
particularly personal-health records platforms like this, is you really need to
have connectivity to a number of data sources," Dunbrack told eWEEK.
better positioned by integrating Microsoft Amalga and SharePoint Server to create physician and patient portals and
offering connectivity to more than 190 health tools, she said.
Although Google Health
did not have national payers, it did provide connectivity to data from two major providers-Cleveland Clinic and Beth Israel Deaconess
Medical Center in Boston-Dunbrack noted.
also have a lack of awareness of personal-health records, Dunbrack said.
"Consumers don't wake up thinking about PHRs," she said. "An
event-triggered decision" like monitoring a chronic condition or a
physician's recommendation might be more a motivating factor, she said.
shutters Google Health, competitors will step in and provide a way for Google
customers to transfer their data to another service. Another portal, MyMediConnect
plans to offer free online PHR accounts to Google Health customers.
MyMediConnect is a PHR service that allows access to 6 million digitized
HealthVault might win some of the departing Google Health customers as well.
In his blog
post "Yes, Thanks-We've Heard About Google Health," Sean Nolan, chief
architect for Microsoft's Health Solutions group, didn't think that Google
Health's demise would negatively affect HealthVault, which recently opened its platform to mobile developers.
As for reasons
for Google Health's demise, despite a clean interface, consumers had difficulty
importing data into the service, according to John Moore, managing partner for
there were also a few problems, the biggest one being that Google only
supported a bastardized version (they modified it) of the Continuity of Care
Record (CCR) standard thereby limiting what a consumer could actually import
into their Google Health account," Moore wrote in a blog post
A problem for
Google Health and competitors was a lack of trust in privacy and security,
still a significant portion of the populace that is reluctant to trust Google,
Microsoft or just about anyone else up there in the Internet Cloud with such
personal information as their health records," Moore wrote.
The launch of
Google Health has been considered groundbreaking as far as a place for
consumers to track their health and keep their records.
Health is truly innovative and broke new ground when it created interfaces to
hospitals, labs and pharmacies in 2008," Dr. John D. Halamka, chief
information officer at Harvard Medical School, wrote in a blog post
. "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."
phones and new Bluetooth 4.0 devices
lead to additional
electronic health monitoring, consumer personal-health records may have a
future. Still, PHR vendors have work to do to convince the public of a reason
to use them.
be more interested in messaging portals and communicating with physicians than
compiling records themselves, according to Shahid Shah, CEO of IT consulting
firm Netspective Communications.
we've learned is that people aren't that interested in managing their health
care records; they are more interested in engaging and communicating with their
health professionals," Shah wrote in his Healthcare IT Guy
large, consumers don't want to have to do their own data entry," agreed
Some EHR, or
clinician-managed health-record, platforms feature messaging add-ons that
doctors use to communicate with patients.
"Patient portals are usually supplementary software functions/features/packages
that are added on top of an EHR to allow patients to access records stored in
an EHR," Shah wrote in an email to eWEEK.