Friday I found out from John Halamka’s blog that Google Health will be retiring. The Official Google Blog post on Google Health says they will continue operating Google Health through January 1, 2012 and “will provide a way for people to download their health data for an additional year beyond that, through January 1, 2013.” After that, anything remaining in Google Health will be permanently deleted.
In the coming weeks Google will be offering the ability to directly transfer health data from Google Health to other services that support Direct Project protocol.
I mentioned in my April 6, 2011 post that technology reporters were discussing the possible future demise of Google Health. With Google out of the PHR arena it will be interesting to see what happens next.
The concept of a PHR may still be too new to most people. The NY Times quotes Lynne Dunbrack, an analyst at IDC Health Insights, as saying “Personal health records have been a technology in search of a market.” The IDC Health Insight survey cited in the Y Times article said only 7% of consumers had tried online PHRs and fewer than half of those people continued to use them.
However, just because Google is leaving doesn’t mean that dearth of PHR platforms. WebMD, Microsoft, RelayHealth and Dossia are still around. Why are those still around and Google Health isn’t. It appears to come down to data; adding it into a system is laborious and is a barrier to consumers using the technology. It appears the most successful companies have partnered with insurers and health providers, thereby eliminating the need for consumers to add in all of the information.
Adam Bosworth also mentions another interesting point that is a sort of sad but true reflection of society; “The consumer technologies that catch on, inform or entertain users, or enable social communication.” He recently discoverd his own health information technology company switched their approach to focus on social games to encourage particpation in wellness programs. It would seem the idea of PHR’s and wellness is just not interesting to people, we need to be entertained in process.
You can read from others on their thoughts as to why Google Health is gone.