Google CEO Discusses Google Health

By Neil Versel

March 4, 2008 | ORLANDO, Fla.—In lifting the veil on the worst-kept secret in health care, Google chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt has unleashed a fury of hope, punditry, and hype about the future of health-IT.

Schmidt introduced the beta version of Google Health last Thursday during a keynote address to the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) meeting, calling the product more than a personal health record. “It’s really a platform for interacting with health data,” Schmidt said.

The description echoed the attitude of Microsoft regarding that company’s HealthVault, even though the health-IT community routinely lumps both products into the broad category of PHRs. “HealthVault is a consumer health platform,” Chris Sullivan, U.S. director of health care provider industry solutions for Microsoft, said at HIMSS. (See “Microsoft Debuts HealthVault.”)

For now, as widely reported a week earlier, Google will test Google Health with 1,500 to 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic. Schmidt said Cleveland Clinic will output patient data from its Epic Systems MyChart Web portal. Once the information is in Google Health, patients will be able to annotate, enhance, and add to their records, as well as search the Web in the context of that information. “Google Health begins with search,” Schmidt said.

The test will run for approximately two months, though Schmidt would not commit to a date for a general release of what now is a beta product. Schmidt said the service will be at, but for now, that URL brings up the health page on Google Co-op, a search-refining application that relies on users to label Web pages they like and trust.

Schmidt said that for Google Health, the Mountain View, Calif., company will not follow its primary business model of delivering targeted advertising based on patient data, nor will it mine patient records for advertising purposes. Instead, Schmidt hopes to drive Google Health users to other, revenue-producing, Google services.

HIMSS board member Barry Chaiken, M.D., a Boston physician informaticist, believes Google may have broken one of the logjams in development of regional health information organizations (RHIOs) by offering a centralized repository for patient data that might attract competing health care entities. “The RHIO problem is solved,” Chaiken told Digital HealthCare & Productivity. “[Schmidt] could absolutely revolutionize this space in a decade.”

But the company must stick to its pledge to protect individual health information from data-mining and advertising. “They can either keep it clean, or if they commercialize private health information, he will ruin this space for more than a decade,” Chaiken said.

Google also must find a way to entice the public to embrace the idea of having interactive PHRs. John Halamka, M.D., chief information officer of CareGroup Health care System, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated delivery network in Boston, said at HIMSS that 2.5 million people have used PHRs that CareGroup provides through its Web portal, and approximately 40,000 access the records each month. “Exactly forty-two have populated [the PHRs] themselves,” said Halamka, a member of the Google Health advisory council.

Schmidt said Google can change that by delivering a product that is not “too vertical” or “too specialized” like so many of the PHRs out there.

Google and the Cleveland Clinic, the eyes of health care are upon you.



Click here to log in.


Add Comment

Text Only 2000 character limit

Page 1 of 1

White Papers & Special Reports

Wiley Chem Planner Synthesis Solved
Sponsored by Wiley

SGI and Intel
HPDA for Personalized Medicine
Sponsored by SGI and Intel

Life Science Webcasts & Podcasts

medidata_podcast_Sites and Sponsors: Mending Bridges over Troubled Waters  
Sites and Sponsors: Mending Bridges over Troubled Waters
Sponsored by Medidata Solutions Worldwide

This podcast brings together two industry leaders to focus on the issues that divide sponsors and sites. On the one hand sites and sponsors unite in advancing better health care through a common passion for developing better drugs. Yet some issues divide them and bridges need to be built or mended to advance the highest levels of cooperation, coordination and success in clinical trials. Listen as the key issues are debated from the site and the sponsor side and new methods and technology are advanced that offer near-term and lasting solutions.

• Common ground in reaching agreement on a budget

• Improving the pace of agreement on budgets and contracts

• Processes for payment to sites on a timely basis

Listen Now  

More Podcasts

Job Openings

For reprints and/or copyright permission, please contact Angela Parsons, 781.972.5467.