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Google pulls the plug on Google Health, and on participative health too ?

I had hoped Larry Page had made another deciscion on Google health. Right on the very moment that challenges for health(care) are at the most, we need big steps, we need support of global leaders, since Health is global.

A lot of us are working to get healthcare changed into a participatory system. For instance in my own Academic Hospital (Radboud University Medical Centre, the Netherlands) together with my executive board i set up a vision in which we are embracing the patient into the healthcare team. To do so we are REshaping our healthcare system from the way we encounter our patients, to the way we educate our new colleagues and students. 

One of the keypoints for patients to get in position to talk with healthcare-professionals about their own health(care) is to be able to have access to the data about it. With this they have the ability to make shared decisions, are better informed, have more options and understand better what and why is happening and probably stick more to the agreed treatment. 

Sure this was one of the starting points for Google back then when they started. But stop now ? Just when it all starts to happen. Look what happened on theTEDxMaastricht conference i have set up about the future of health have a look at the video’s and see how important it is to own the data of your own health. See what is happening and is ignited by e-patients like e-PatientDave.

We need global players to be in there since it is my strong opinion that PHR’s (Personal Health Records) are changing healthcare into a more open system, due to the fact that Google, Microsoft are (were) in this market, more and more data have come available in EHR-systems in hospitals, GP’s etc. Next to that there also has to be a standarized set of data for exchange. Just like Microsoft has set a very much used standard with their .CSV format both Google and Microsoft were on track setting a new one : syncing with Google Health and Microsoft Healthvault. 

So where does things brings Microsoft’s HealthVault : alone ? That is to be seen, might even be that due to the disappearance of Google in the arena, the PHR business collapses or might even starts to boost. The future will tell us. 

What is your take on this ? please share it with us below.


Official Google Blog:

An update on Google Health and Google PowerMeter

6/24/2011 11:01:00 AM

In the coming months, we’re going to retire two products that didn’t catch on the way we would have hoped, but did serve as influential models: Google Health (retiring January 1, 2012; data available for download through January 1, 2013) and Google PowerMeter (retiring September 16, 2011). Both were based on the idea that with more and better information, people can make smarter choices, whether in regard to managing personal health and wellness, or saving money and conserving energy at home. While they didn’t scale as we had hoped, we believe they did highlight the importance of access to information in areas where it’s traditionally been difficult.

We’re making this announcement well in advance to give you plenty of time to download the information you might have stored in either product or to transfer it to another service, and we’re making it easy for you to do it in a variety of formats. More on how that works below.

More broadly, we remain committed as always to helping people around the world access and use information pertinent to them. We’ll continue to pursue this goal and to encourage government and industry to do the same.

Google Health
When we launched Google Health, our goal was to create a service that would give people access to their personal health and wellness information. We wanted to translate our successful consumer-centered approach from other domains to healthcare and have a real impact on the day-to-day health experiences of millions of our users.

Now, with a few years of experience, we’ve observed that Google Health is not having the broad impact that we hoped it would. There has been adoption among certain groups of users like tech-savvy patients and their caregivers, and more recently fitness and wellness enthusiasts. But we haven’t found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people. That’s why we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the Google Health service. We’ll continue to operate the Google Health site as usual through January 1, 2012, and we’ll provide an ongoing way for people to download their health data for an additional year beyond that, through January 1, 2013. Any data that remains in Google Health after that point will be permanently deleted.

If you’re a Google Health user, we’ve made it easy for you to retrieve your data from Google Health any time before January 1, 2013. Just go to the site to download your information in any of several formats: you can print and save it, or transfer it to other services that support industry-standard data formats. Available formats include:

  • Printable PDF including all the records in your Google Health profile
  • Industry-standard Continuity of Care Record (CCR) XML that can be imported into other personal health tools such as Microsoft® HealthVault™
  • Comma-separated value (CSV) files that can be imported into spreadsheets and database programs for ongoing tracking and graphing
  • HTML and XML versions of the original “data notices” sent to your Google Health profile by linked data providers
  • A unified ZIP archive that includes all files you’ve uploaded to your profile, plus all of the formats above

Over the coming weeks we’ll also be adding the ability to directly transfer your health data to other services that support the Direct Project protocol, an emerging open standard for efficient health data exchange. And while we’ll discontinue the Google Health service at the beginning of 2012, we’ll keep these download options available for one more year, through the start of 2013. This approach to download and transfer capability is part of Google’s strong commitment to data liberation principles: providing free and easy ways for users to maintain control of their data and move it out of Google’s services at any time.

In the end, while we weren’t able to create the impact we wanted with Google Health, we hope it has raised the visibility of the role of the empowered consumer in their own care. We continue to be strong believers in the role information plays in healthcare and in improving the way people manage their health, and we’re always working to improve our search quality for the millions of users who come to Google every day to get answers to their health and wellness queries.




Lucien Engelen

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