Google and Microsoft Approaches to Online Health
"We wouldn't offer a refill service or the ability to securely e-mail your doctor," Krasner told eWEEK. "We're looking for third parties to be able to do that. Other people come in, build using our APIs. It's up to the user to decide who they want to work with." Beyond third-party application providers, she said Google is partnering with clinical delivery system providers, medical groups, retail pharmacies and labs such as Quest Diagnostics.This would seem to put Google in direct competition with Microsoft. Sean Nolan, chief architect and general manager of the Health Solutions Group at Microsoft, said Rocklin's assessment is largely accurate, save for some nuances."We come at it as platform with some apps to support, they come at it as application with some platform aspects to support," Nolan told eWEEK. While Microsoft positions HealthVault as a platform first, it is just as interested in developing front-end technologies, specifically some consumer-centric projects with the Mayo Clinic. Meanwhile, Google users can write applications on top of Google Health using the GData API. As a result, Google Health and HealthVault will increasingly overlap with one another with the passage of time, Nolan said. In the meantime, he said there is plenty of online health care pie for both vendors, and said it is too early to draw competitive comparisons and sling FUD. Rocklin said Google and Microsoft could work together for the betterment of online health. Noting Google's open-source leanings, he said he expects application vendors to write apps or widgets that would snap onto Google Health. Programmers could conceivably write an application that pulls data out of HealthVault and moves it over to Google Health. A lot has to happen between now and then. In the meantime, Microsoft will keep signing up partners and Google will continue to pilot its Health service, allowing Cleveland Clinic patients to access their PHRs via a Gmail address and a secure password.