Google Health’s demise begs the question of what is the expertise necessary to provide valuable resources for both consumers and professionals in the healthcare industry. Clearly Google provides valuable services for personal and professional use, but when it came to healthcare, their offering was lacking. Is that a function of Google’s technical expertise? Not entirely (though you could argue that Google Health didn’t push the envelope enough technically). Rather, it’s because Google’s expertise isn’t in the healthcare space. They’re not a company that understands the needs and considerations for healthcare needs. That’s not a knock on Google – it’s a fact that their core competency is built for something else.
PwC has an interesting video and report about how over half of the Fortune 50 companies in the health industry are entering the space in non-traditional ways. Clearly there are opportunities for companies to enter this space and provide value. However, it’s not as easy as porting over an existing product or service and trying to fit it to meet healthcare needs. This is especially true when it comes to data collection. Google Health was essentially a place where users could manually upload their health data and… nothing, it just sat there. The expansion of the health industry comes from the clinical utility of information. Unless the technology works in such a way as to add measurable value, it’s not worth it. Had Google Health automatically synced with EMRs and provided something like drug interaction warnings or recommendations on preventive screenings, then there would have been personal utility.
The smart people over at the MIT Media Lab’s New Media Medicine group have an interesting project underway called “CollaboRhythm” that takes personal health records like Google Health the next step. The crux of this project is that the record is a collaborative process between individual and physician. Both can provide very different health information, and it’s necessary to have both sides in order to make informed decisions. You can listen to an interview with project lead John Moore (from The Take Away):
The key takeaway here is that there’s a ton of opportunity for companies to enter the healthcare market, but doing so requires a thorough understanding of what is valued in this space. At the end of the day, clinical outcomes are one of the chief measurements, so if your technology, product or service can’t help that, you should seriously rethink your entry into this space.