If you Google ‘health’; you will no longer find Google Health

JUN 30

In a culmination of a yearlong rumor mill, Google finally came clean in its announcement  late last week that it would discontinue its personal health record (PHR) program, Google Health.

In many ways it’s a shame that Google has pulled out of evangelizing the PHR.  We have long been vocal that healthcare would benefit from non-traditional players entering the market with tech based solutions despite our skepticism on PHR adoption trends; that an outsider like Google tried to use its vast resources to innovate the healthcare market was inspiring.

Ideally, Google would have brought fresh ideas and tried-and-tested approaches from other industries (financial services, e-commerce) to tackle issues like collaboration, workflow integration, and data silos – all bugaboos for healthcare which other industries have solved.

Our top five reasons why Google Health failed:

  • Lacked executive support within Google
  • Lacked an elegant user interface
  • Never deployed a scalable business/revenue model
  • Failed to capture physician support
  • Lacked Integration capabilities to healthcare information sources

Perhaps if Google Health was more Google-like (social, able to leverage advertising or other information monetization models, always connected to underlying information sources, and much more consumer friendly), adoption would have been better.

It’s likely however, that Google Health was doomed from the start.

Outside of tech geeks and fitness enthusiasts, PHRs simply have not seen wide market adoption as the most patients haven’t aligned around a paradigm of managing their health information 24×7.  Google created an engagement tool without a strategy to “engage the unengaged” and bet on the come that user adoption would materialize around the strength of Google’s brand.

Over the past several months we have increasingly talked and written about a healthcare market where consumers want to and in fact are becoming more engaged in their health. The problem is that consumers don’t know how to engage in their own health, and physicians don’t offer the necessary catalyst to make it happen.

Tools (like Google Health) are not enough.  Healthcare organizations need to put entire programs in place to engage a consumer with clearly articulated benefits (incentives, cost savings, better access to care, better care, etc.).  Once in place, more effective consumer targeting and engagement will follow.

In the coming weeks, we will be publishing research on consumer engagement platforms in healthcare and where innovative technologies will attempt to “engage the unengaged”.

Until then, let us know what you think.

Scott Donahue
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