Google Gets Into Healthcare
February 29, 2008
I was down in Orlando this week for the annual HIMMS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) conference and exhibition, a show dedicated to transforming healthcare through IT.
This is a new space for me, so I attended with the view of taking in as much as I possibly could in the short time I had at the show. I’d also like to send a great big thank you out to Michael Carr of IgeaCare, who took the time to shepherd me around the event.
I’ll be writing more about my experience in an upcoming issue of Internet Telephony and of course here on TMCnet, but I wanted to get a quick post in about something Google is doing on the healthcare front.
Last week Google announced a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, a large academic medical center centered around giving patients access to their own medical records.
The pilot is open to just a few thousand patients to start, but Google is collaborating with a number of insurance plans, medical groups, pharmacies and hospitals to see the project through.
Writing on the Official Google Blog, Alan Newberger, Engineering Manager, expressed his view that the pilot was a key initiative. “I see it as an important first step to show how Google can help users get access to their medical records and take charge of their health information,” he wrote.
CEO Eric Schmidt gave the closing keynote at HIMMS, and he spoke publicly for the first time about Google’s overall health strategy.
According to Google’s Marissa Mayer, VP, Search & User Products, “Google Health aims to solve an urgent need that dovetails with our overall mission of organizing patient information and making it accessible and useful. Through our health offering, our users will be empowered to collect, store, and manage their own medical records online.”
Here's what Mayer sees as the key differentiators that set Google Health apart from other solutions offering personal health records:
- Platform — We're assembling a directory of third-party services that interoperate with Google Health. Right now, this means you'll be able to automatically import information such as your doctors' records, your prescription history, and your test results into Google Health in order to easily access and and control your data. Later, this platform strategy will mean that you will be able to interact with services and tools easily, and will be able to do things like schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and start using new wellness tools.
- Portability — Our Internet presence ultimately means that through Google Health, you will be able to have access and control over your health data from anywhere. Through the Cleveland Clinic pilot, we have already found great use-cases in which, for example, people spend 6 months of the year in Ohio, and 6 months of the year in Florida or Arizona, and will now be able to move their health data between their various health providers seamlessly and with total control. Previously, this would have required carrying paper records back and forth. With Google Health, the user can simply import the data from each medical facility and then choose to share it with the other facilities. It's advances in data portability like this that we think can really make a difference in the quality of healthcare. The clearer and more comprehensive the information regarding your health becomes, the better your care will be.
- User focus — We aren't doctors or healthcare experts, but one thing Google can create is a clean, easy-to-use user experience that makes managing your health information straightforward and easy.
As you would have assumed by now, Microsoft too has a horse in this particular race, with their HealthVault solution. Announced last October, the Microsoft offering is designed to allow users to store and share health records online, to collect and manage health data on a variety of home devices, and to search for health information.
The overall eHealth market is poised for tremendous growth. In fact a recent report from INPUT positions the market for Federal government healthcare IT spending a poised to grow by 7.1% (CAGR), from $3.2 billion this year to over $4.5 billion in 2013.
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