Google Inc. unveiled a revamped Google Health last week, shifting the focus of its personal health record (PHR) service from importing records to tracking personal wellness.
Through the redesign, Google Health users can employ charts and graphs to track changes to their medical data and to work toward health or fitness goals. To that end, there’s a diary where users can track their reactions to medications or the results of a workout, Google told Healthcare IT News. The PHR service also can import data from scales and personal exercise-monitoring devices.
Ultimately, it sounds like a good move for Google. As SearchHealthIT.com reported earlier this year, PHR services stand at a crossroads. Many agree that these applications — namely, Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault, plus a bevy of services developed and launched by health care providers — are indeed useful, but they nevertheless suffer from poor adoption rates. Google Health’s adoption was poor enough to make Chilmark Research and others suggest that the service was on the skids.
Shifting the focus from information to wellness, and giving users tools to actively measure their progress toward, say, a weight loss goal, should help Google Health catch on. Incorporating articles from Google News and Google Scholar should help too, because users’ searches for news and tips will get easier. Ultimately, though, physicians also will have to buy into Google Health, because few patients will adopt PHR services unless their doctors have encouraged it.