Have rumors of Google Health's death been greatly exaggerated?

Have rumors of Google Health's death been greatly exaggerated?

Summary: What's really going on with Google Health?


Image courtesy Flickr user KaCey97007.

What's really going on with Google Health? Is it sick? Dying? Already dead? Has it just gone away to rehab or a health spa? Is it hiking the Appalachian Trail? Did it lose its cellphone? Does it just need some space, or some time alone?

I haven't heard back from my contacts at Google yet. As of this writing, neither has fellow ZDNet blogger Mary-Jo Foley, apart from being told by the folks at Google, "We don’t comment on rumor or speculation."

Google Health death watch timeline

I've attempted to assess what's really going on. I've had to read between the lines a little, without jumping to conclusions. In this article, I've aggregated what I've seen so far, and put it into a little timeline for you.

March 26: The Wall Street Journal weighs in

The Wall Street Journal published an article speculating on what Larry Page's return to his old gig as CEO of Google might mean for how the company is run. WSJ basically says that the company will be trimmed of bureaucratic fat and run more like a startup and less like an incumbent.

Apparently, about a month ago, managers were emailed and asked to submit a 60-word written elevator pitch for the projects they've been working on, ostensibly so the projects perceived as winners can be backed and the losers can be sacked.

March 27: A premature eulogy?

Gerson Lehrman Group analyst Gregg Kail did some anticipatory grieving, and started working on Google Health's eulogy. He made it sound like the death of Google Health was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and I started sniffling as I thought of poor, beautiful, young Google Health, so full of potential, snatched away before its prime. All that cloud storage and real-time mobile access to medical records....gone.

All of the hope for an intuitively obvious solution to where and how to begin to get practitioners and patients on the same page, all the trackability and shareability of pertinent information, all the potential future reports, organizational solutions, tips, possibly even future pie charts and graphs...cruelly snatched away.

Why? Why now? Could it be that maybe the angels needed Google Health more than we do? Why?

I became very maudlin and selfish in my grief.

Oh, Google Health, I was going to get around to blogging about you soon. Maybe even do a training course or two. Possibly even write a book. What hurts the most is that I never got a chance to tell you how I felt about you. Maybe if I had started sooner, I might have changed things for you...

March 29: Microsoft, Google Health, and the five stages of grief

Mary-Jo's article had me ricocheting through different stages of grief.

Denial: Hey, after all, as Mary-Jo pointed out, there's no proof that Google Health is even sick. True, it's been kind of laying there for quite awhile. But who knows? Maybe it's just tired, and taking the opportunity to get some beauty sleep.

Anger: I started furiously lashing out at Microsoft Health Solutions for jumping in poor Google Health's grave so fast.

Bargaining: Maybe if a whole bunch of bloggers clap loud enough, Tinkerbell will live.

Depression: I just know that it will never be the same with a Microsoft business solution as it would have been with sweet, simple Google Health.

Acceptance: I started considering how we might be able to someday move on, and be happy, in a future with Microsoft's HealthVault and its Healthcare Innovation Lab. I imagined the possibilities of the Xbox and the Kinect, feeling guilty even as I envisioned smiling avatars with achievement badges for meeting health goals.

March 30: Where there's life, there's hope

Then came eWeek's Health Care IT News article, which was full of interesting background information. In it, Brian T. Horowitz made some great points about the usefulness of Google Health. He then basically speculated that Google will simply remove certain life support measures without officially "pulling the plug," in order to see if the patient rallies on its own.

March 31: Now, we wait

Finally, Brian Dolan's article in MobiHealthNews offered a reality check, pretty much saying that it's just too early to make conclusive statements about the prognosis of this patient, especially since we haven't heard much from Google itself.

Maybe some watchful waiting is in order. When I know more, you'll know more.

See also: Microsoft forges ahead in healthcare, while Google said to pull back

Oh well. I needed a good cry, anyhow. If Google Health is important to you, and you haven't told it so by joining, now might be a good time to sign up and show support. However, if you're already using Google Health, my advice is to make sure you do what you can to keep a backup of your data, just in case.

Topics: Health, CXO, Google, Legal, IT Employment


Denise Amrich is a Registered Nurse, the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.

Nothing in this article is meant to be a substitute for medical advice, and shouldn't be considered as such. If you are in need of medical help, please see your doctor.

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  • Good riddance

    Why would anyone grieve over the Internet's most successful spyware company *not* getting access to their medical records?
    x I'm tc
    • RE: Have rumors of Google Health's death been greatly exaggerated?

      @jdakula Google is an advertising company, but you are right about the term spyware on their products, I think Google needs to start to care more about privacy issues in their users, they need to make sure their Android OS doesn't keep GPS coordinates on the users location everytime they make a phone call, they also should do the same on Chrome OS whenever you use Gtalk or Gmail, if a user decides to share their GPS coordinates it's the user responsibility but this should be disabled by default on all Internet devices.
      Gabriel Hernandez
      • RE: Have rumors of Google Health's death been greatly exaggerated?

        @Gabriel Hernandez spyware... see doubleclick acquisition
    • RE: Have rumors of Google Health's death been greatly exaggerated?

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  • RE: Have rumors of Google Health's death been greatly exaggerated?

  • RE: Have rumors of Google Health's death been greatly exaggerated?

    I can see that you are enamored with Google Health, but beyond the <i>"potential"</i>, you really haven't given any compelling reason they should keep it.<br><br>From Brian Dolan's article that you linked he stated:<br><br><i>So, while it may be true that rumors of Google Healths demise have been greatly exaggerated it may or may not be here in the new Larry Page era a better question might be whether the platform ever really needed to exist at all.</i><br><br>To be fair, Microsoft Healthvault doesn't look any better or worse than Google's option right now. Now that they've moved it out of the incubation phase, maybe it will?
    Rich Miles
  • RE: Have rumors of Google Health's death been greatly exaggerated?

    The state of health care records (storage, sharing, communication) here in Canada is incredibly bad. Our governments have attempted (with billions of dollars) but failed to improve the situation.

    The entirely situation could be radically improved for the cost of some training - teaching pharmacists, doctors, etc. to use Google health.

    The only thing standing in the way are a few minor improvements in Google health and people's paranoia about putting their health info online.

    Sadly, Google Health will not be adopted. Our governments will instead spend billions more, and we will probably be no further ahead in five years.
    Get some pharmacies, hospitals, doctors
  • Message has been deleted.

    Message has been deleted.
  • RE: Have rumors of Google Health's death been greatly exaggerated?

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