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A Review of Google Health

May 19th, 2008

by Tony Chen

Google Health launched today. Check it out here


As you can see,, there's 4 calls to action:
- I can add info to my profile (stuff like conditions, medications, allergies, procedures)
- I can import my medical record into Google Health (right now, the only options for this are info from Cleveland Clinic, Beth Israel Deaconess, Walgreens, CVS, Quest, and a few others - so I'm out of luck here)
- I can explore online health services. The first 3 services listed? Cleveland Clinic's eConsult service, (free med mgmt tool), and AHA's heart attack risk calculator.
- I can look for physicians using a drop-down specialty box and typing in key words/locations.

There has been a lot of hype about how Google and Microsoft will "change healthcare" because of their new services, so today we can get a sense for whether they're going to live up to all the hype.

What I liked
- I give Google high marks for what they do best - taking complex information architecture and making it simple and easy to navigate. The navigation for the site was very intuitive for me. I added to my profile the items I wanted pretty easily (I wish I can see how the import works - if anyone did this, please comment!). I searched for my primary care physician and clicked "add to my medical contacts", and boom, his info was stored there for me for future reference. It's pretty easy to add immunizations/procedures/meds - I could pick it from the list. Or I could start typing in the open text box, and the more letters I type, the likely field appear (just like we do now with email addresses)
- I liked the fact that there's a drug interaction area. As I added meds, it showed exactly which interactions to watch out for.
- I liked being able to create a new profile (which I did for my 2-year-old).

What I didn't like
- They still need to fix the "find a doctor" function. I typed in some docs I knew and for some reason, their practice partner's names come up, not theirs. So, it was pretty confusing.
- It's still unclear how to "use" the record besides just having it all in one place. I've heard that patients will be able to choose what part of the record to share and with you, but didn't see that in this release. There's no option to download the data, either. What else can I do with it?
- I wish they added some sort of HRA & fitness/wellness area. Now that would drive usage - if I could traffic my weight, workouts, bp, whatever. After all, it is launched as Google Health, not Google Health Care. Nonetheless, maybe they've decided to give that piece of the pie to others.

Where hospitals have opportunities
- Tech-savvy hospitals should be able to start looking at linking their EMR's into Google Health. Of course, there's some tension with this as many hospitals are trying to drive stickiness/traffic to their EMR portals. This would stand to compete with that. Why would a patient log into their hospital's EMR system when Google's system is probably easier to use and more visually appealing. On the other hand, hospitals that do have the link the Google Health provide their patients will this added benefit. Maybe patients will increasingly ask their physicians who will increasingly ask their administrators?
- Tech-savvy hospitals and others can try to have their online services added to Google's list of online services. This is essentially another channel to drive traffic/utilization.
- Hospitals who are savvy in the ways of 2.0 will have their physicians appear higher in search results. Yup, this is yet another way to search for physicians, but honestly, I doubt people will use this tool to make physician decisions. More so, they'll go onto HealthGrades or other Physician rating sites. The "Find a Doctor" option on Google is more so that we can automatically add our physician's info into our profile quickly.

Here are a few other notable mentions of Google Health:
GeekDoctor (CIO BIDMC)
Healthcare IT Blog

More on this soon, as they unveil more details in today's press conference.


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