The Demise of Google Health

Google’s June 24th announcement that it is terminating Google Health has evoked endless comments on most healthcare sites. They attribute its demise to various factors: the lack of consumer interest, the fact that it didn’t have a game or social network focus, that it didn’t enable consumers to e-mail their doctors, schedule appointments or renew prescriptions, and so forth.

Virtually no one puts the blame where it belongs. Simply put, Google Health didn’t meet the needs of the two most important groups in healthcare: consumers and providers. Neither have the many other previous attempts at launching a viable personal health record.

Google’s search engine disrupted the world because it met the needs of people to quickly and easily access information. Google did the work, the user got the information they wanted. Then Google met a need for advertisers, it gave them exposure to consumers. The result: incredible acceptance by both consumers and advertisers, growth and financial rewards!

With Google Health, Google did exactly the opposite. It created a system in which the user had to do all the work and the providers were taken for granted and all but ignored.

Patients want convenience and to know their records are secure, yet Google Health required that they become data entry clerks, and stored their records on breachable Internet-accessible servers! Providers don’t want to be bothered unless they benefit in a meaningful way, yet Google Health did nothing for them.

The lessons to be learned from the failure of Google Health are that providers must embrace a personal health record system or it will fail, that convenience, ease of use, and a sound business model are critical, and that despite one’s size/prominence, financial resources, or technical expertise, they will fail if they do not to meet these requirements.

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