Anyone who wants to know how Google will build its Google Health portal needs to get themselves a copy of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain.
(This particular Tom Sawyer picture is by Barb Cox, from Linn Grove, Iowa.)
The idea is to let everyone else do the hard work, while you just show them the job, give them some tools, and tell them how great the result will be.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Tom Sawyer is a great book, and Mr. Twain was a great writer. This is also, in a way, the ethos of the open source vendor, the idea that the workload will be shared by those who benefit from the work.
What's amazing is it seems to be working.
- SafeMed of San Diego will embed its spidering software in Google Health, allowing people to learn quickly of drug interactions and treatments that worked.
- My Medical Records of Los Angeles will integrate its technology into Google Health, so its users will be Google's users.
That's just in the last several days. The effort has barely started.
This is in contrast to the way that Microsoft is going about things, which is to say by acquisition. Or the way that Healthline is going about it, which is to say through alliances.
It's a bottom-up approach which will be familiar to anyone who has used open source or written a check to Howard Dean.
The problem is that medicine is not known as a bottom-up business. Only doctors are supposed to practice medicine. Only insurers are supposed to be able to evaluate it.
There will be enormous resistance to Google's approach here. The vendors it is attracting are also focused on a bottom-up approach.
This is going to be fun to watch.