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Monday, June 27, 2011

A Me Too Post on the Demise Google Health

Just about every HIT expert, pundit, and news outlet has had something to say on the demise of Google Health.  I suppose I need to say something about it as well.

On the Demise of Google Health

After reading what everyone else had to say, I decided to not to repeat Google's mistake.  So I talked to some real patients who might have used it.  My survey is not at all scientific, but here are some of the feedback I got:

Here's what my wife had to say: "What's that? I know more about WebMD than I do about Google Health. (And how does she know about WebMD? Because she was Googling something.) ... I'm sure it'd be cool to have a way to organize all the paper you need to keep track of as a patient, especially as you get older." When I pointed out there was no good way to get it [the paper] to Google, she asked what good it was. My wife is no slouch on a computer, but not technically very literate (that is, after all, what I'm good for).

My mother had never heard of it either. She was thrilled to hear about it, and then extremely disappointed to hear that it was being discontinued. When I talked to her further about it, it became apparent that it wouldn't have solved her paper problems. She almost repeated my wife's words ... what good is it. My mom is pretty computer savvy when it comes to dealing with the stuff that concerns her. She carried around a 3" thick folder of paper (and x-rays) on my step-father for years. Many of them she'd entered in a word processor. She's got a piece of paper on her refrigerator with all her emergency info in it, including doctor names and numbers, meds, allergies, et cetera. She might have used it, but never heard of it before.

A friend of the family is on MA Health for insurance. Her doctor doesn't take it and when her recently become Ex dropped her from his insurance, she lost access to care. Google Health wouldn't have helped her with any of her problems. For her, it's not about getting data, but rather access to care.

My mother in law spent most of her free time playing with the computer.  She generated an extensive family tree.  Did she know about Google Health?  No.  Would she have used it?  Perhaps.  Would it have helped her create the complex set of legal documents she needed to assure her that her children would be able to assist in her care?  No.

All these people could have benefited from some tool. But it wasn't Google Health because a) they'd have no easy way to get data into it, b) it wouldn't solve their real problems, and c) they'd never even heard of it.

It gets back to hammers. When all you have is a hammer (cloud storage and data organizing tools), every problem looks like a nail. What looks like the problem here was not lack of nails, but beams to nail them to.

I'm sorry to see Google Health go, but I also hope it will be replaced with something better, that meets the needs of patients like me and my family members.

 -- Keith

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