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May 17 2011   1:49PM GMT

In response to the “stasis” of Google Health

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault, personal health records, PHR

A few weeks back, I reached out to Dr. David Kibbe, senior advisor to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and their Center for Health IT, asking for his thoughts on the future of both Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault’s personal health records (PHR) systems. I was specifically interested in learning Kibbe’s perspective on an article in which the author has less than high hopes for Google’s personal health records platform.

Fast forward a few weeks, and the bees begin to buzz about the fall of Google Health once again. John Moore of Chilmark Research notes that “in late March 2011, we started hearing the rumors of the impending demise of Google Health once again,” which he also refers to as a “sort of annual thing,” a fire that was only fueled by the less than responsive Google PR department. In addition, one might even argue that the proverbial fat lady has sung given the recently announced departure of Missy Krasner from the organization, as she has been one of Google Health’s most visible figures.

After reaching out to Dr. Kibbe for his opinions on the churning rumor mill, he notes that Google is a company that seems to be “always in beta.  I think the same sort of approach applies to what they let go.  Perhaps they’re letting Google Health fall by the wayside, but I wouldn’t know that for certain until it stopped functioning all together.

“One thing that I would say in general about PHRs and PHR platforms, and that is that large provider organizations such as hospital systems and IDNs do seem reluctant to turn over their platforms to branded third-parties like HealthVault and Google.   Rather, it seems to me these providers show increasing interest in creating their own PHR platforms for their own markets, and in engaging patients with their systems via their PHR and its related services.   Note that providers of these “smart portals” — essentially tethered PHR portals + apps — like MEDSEEK appear to be growing much faster than independent PHRs.  Perhaps this is because there is a business model behind the usage of the products they offer, whereas HV and GH have not established a strong business model yet.  Since no one is keeping accurate counts on the numbers of patients/consumers using which types of PHRs, this is just my own observation, and I can’t quantify it.

“My sense is that what we should watch is the uptake and adoption by individuals/patients of PHR platforms+apps, regardless of the source.  And we should watch the ways in which large provider organizations tap into the web services model for delivery of tools for patient engagement, analytics, and decision support useful to patients and their providers, through such PHR platforms.  Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and others are and will be playing roles in the development of these services for patients as accountable care drives the value proposition for care coordination and the economics of health care drives patients to do more for themselves to avoid increasing out-of-pocket expenditures on health care.

Google Health has contributed a great deal to this effort to close the collaboration gap between providers and patients, regardless of what happens to Google Health per se.

Regards, dCK.”

David C. Kibbe, MD MBA, is senior advisor for the American Academy of Family Physicians; Chair, ASTM International, E31Technical Committee on Healthcare Informatics; and Principal, The Kibbe Group LLC.

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