Google Health to Shut Down in 2012

12 Aug

Google’s high-profile and bold mission has always been to organize the world’s information. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending upon your perspective), they haven’t been particularly successful in their health records business.

Last month, Google announced that it is folding Google Health, where consumers could organize their medical records. Starting in 2008, Google Health allowed users to manually input their health information or log in to their accounts with health services providers who partnered with Google. Some of the volunteered information included health conditions, medications, allergies, and lab results.

So what led to the demise of Google Health? For one, according to an IDC Health Insights study released last month, only seven percent of all Americans have ever used a personal health record (PHR). As more and more healthcare providers move toward electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchanges (HIEs), the use of PHRs is expected to steadily rise. It’s just a little too late for Google Health.

“Experts say its untimely death is, in many ways, an extension of U.S. health-care providers’ failure to share data across institutions, or make it easy for patients to obtain it,” said David Talbot of MIT’s Technology Review.

Isaac Kohane, who directs the informatics program at Children’s Hospital in Boston, and co-directs Harvard Medical School’s Center for Biomedical Informatics, says that will be at least five years before data is flowing smoothly enough for something like Google Health to work. Beyond efficiency problems, some analysts feel that Google failed to create enough trust with people who may be wary about what would happen to their health records once they were loaded on Google’s servers.

Google Health will be shut down January 1, 2012, but people who currently use Google Health will be able to transfer their information to another PHR platform, such as Microsoft HealthVault, WebMD, or NoMoreClipboard, through January 1, 2013. Beyond that, they will be permanently deleted from Google Health.