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Google Health's Lifeline Runs Out 196

Posted by timothy
from the when-that-lining-isnt-silver dept.
turing0 writes "As a former bioinformatics researcher and CTO I have some sad news to start 2012 with. Though I am sure not a surprise to the Slashdot crowd, it appears we — or our demographic — made up more than 75% of the Google Health userbase. Today marks the end of Google Health. (Also see this post for the official Google announcement and lame excuse for the reasoning behind this myopic decision.) The decision of Google to end this excellent service is a fantastic example of what can represent the downside of cloud services for individuals and enterprises. The cloud is great when and while your desired application is present — assuming it's secure and robust — but you are at the mercy of the provider for longevity." (Read more, below.)
turing0 continues: "I am surprised to see Google abandoning Google Health just when we can see the benefit to personal health when micro sensors such as the Nike Plus and Jawbone's UP bracelet are entering the market. Greater amounts of personal health data can be gathered now via smartphone and then turned into valuable preventative as well as useful diagnostic medical information.

Shuttering Google Health is a surprising and short-sighted decision on Google's behalf, IMHO. Perhaps closing the Google Health service is not 'Evil' per se — but given the immense magnitude of financial resources at Google I cannot believe Google Health will make a decimal place of impact on Google's operating costs. Services like Google Health are a fantastic public relations tool as well as an amazing potential source of raw scientific data if nothing else.

In closing, it's very funny to note Google suggests Google Health users migrate GH data to the Microsoft Health Vault. Hopefully some Web service other than Health Vault will rise from the ashes of Google Health. The real benefit in terms of Google being a custodian of my health and wellness records via Google Health was that Google as a corporation is considered a trustworthy intermediary by most users and health care professionals. Now I am not so sure; perhaps it's time to re-claim my email ..."
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Google Health's Lifeline Runs Out

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  • by bonch (38532) * on Sunday January 01, 2012 @03:41PM (#38558082)

    Another day, another Google service bites the dust. At this rate, they're set to outdo Microsoft in the number of obsoleted APIs and services that they use to pull the rug out from under people. And why shouldn't they? We're not the customers. Advertisers are, and if a service isn't helping Google's advertisers, they're not interested in keeping it around.

  • New to me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crawforc3 (2450856) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @03:41PM (#38558086)
    This is the first time I've heard of Google Health.
  • by SharkLaser (2495316) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @03:50PM (#38558142) Journal
    That also means that everyone loses trust in Google's services. They just seem to cancel anything anytime they want. There was an earlier discussion about Native Client. Who's to say Google won't just drop it? Even Microsoft offers very specific end-of-lifecycle dates and they're always several years in to the future. With every version, too!

    I won't be trusting Google's services to stay up, and hence won't be using them either. I only use the ones I can afford to end randomly, like search and youtube.
  • by Mannfred (2543170) <mannfred@gmail.com> on Sunday January 01, 2012 @03:53PM (#38558168)
    One way of interpreting the decision is that Google is finding it hard to make money off tech-savvy people (who probably use adblockers and can tell the difference between sponsored links and actual search results, etc).
  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @03:55PM (#38558190)
    This is not unlike when they canceled Firefly, a few geeks are devastated, hardly anyone else notices.
  • Lack of Impact (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sirdude (578412) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:00PM (#38558218)
    Quoting http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/update-on-google-health-and-google.html [blogspot.com] :

    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.

    Considering the fact that I - somebody who in many ways spends more time on the Internet than off it - have not heard about this interesting service until today, I seriously doubt that the problem is that there haven't been enough takers. Yes, it sounds a touch megalomaniacal. But my conclusion is that Google has simply just not raised awareness about this product. With the amount of faeces being thrown all over the interwebz for other products such as Google Plus, I dare say that a small fraction of the resources expended could have saved initiatives such as Google Health from flatlining ...

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:23PM (#38558380) Homepage

    Even Microsoft offers very specific end-of-lifecycle dates and they're always several years in to the future. With every version, too!

    With Microsoft, you're the customer. With Google, you're the product.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:36PM (#38558466)

    That also means that everyone loses trust in Google's free services.

    There, fixed that for you.

    Seriously - did turing0 like this "excellent" service enough to be willing to pay for it? If so, did he ever write Google and suggest it move to a for-fee model? After all, we had quite a bit of warning this was going to happen.

    Reading the rest of turing0's post, though... it's obvious what he wants is for Google to continue to provide this service at no cost to himself - "given the immense magnitude of financial resources at Google I cannot believe Google Health will make a decimal place of impact on Google's operating costs."

    Heck, I'd be irritated if Google decided to discontinue Gmail - but I'd recognize it's their right to do so, given I'm not paying a dime for it (directly, anyway - and I don't believe Google Health could be contextual-ad-supported in the same way, what with FIPAA and all).

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:42PM (#38558520)
    Turing0, how much were you paying for your Google Health? what service guarantee did you get for your paid contract with them? Oh, $0 and nothing. Quit your whining, so a free trial balloon was cancelled, pony up some bucks for an equivalent service with a vendor and then you'll have a right to complain about service or lack thereof.
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:53PM (#38558594)
    Seriously. I never recommend to my customers that they rely on "cloud services". In the last year or so, even Amazon and other services have gone down, taking innumerable websites offline for unpredictable amounts of time.

    Just recently, an Amazon server went down, and a customer was notified that their site was down and that they had 48 hours to save the site or it would be gone... and they received the notice about 24 hours after that 48 hours had already expired.

    Other people I know have had other, similar experiences.

    My advice to customers is: DO NOT make your business dependent on the performance of "services" over which your have no control. You are putting all your eggs in someone else's basket, and that's just plain a Bad Idea. And that includes everything from depending on Google Apps to sites on EC2.

    I'll pass, thanks very much.
  • by kuhneng (241514) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @05:06PM (#38558664) Homepage

    Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault's personal health records (PHRs) are well known in health IT circles, but even among the health IT and healthcare informatics professionals I work with, uptake has been very shallow. There have been connected PHR-enabled sensors available for weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, and many other biometrics for some time, but again, very little interest in flowing this data into stand alone PHRs.

    Stand alone PHRs aren't the only way to facilitate doctor-patient interaction. Many leading electronic medical records systems (EMRs) offer integrated personal health records - the disadvantage being that these records only show the data from one provider or health care system. Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) are rapidly springing up across the country to facilitate provider to provider data integration and provide a compelling model for direct patient participation in their care.

    Personally, I've tracked these services for years but I've never bothered to create an account. Entering my information manually is tedious, and the standards and integration between EMRs and stand-along PHRs is emerging at best. If I had a fully populated PHR, it's not clear what value I'd really get out of it. My main provider already has most of my information and can source information directly from other practices when needed. Doctors are culturally suspicious of patient submitted data, as they have concerns about amateur self-diagnosis and drug-seeking patients.

    The way Google is winding this down increases my trust in their other services. Google announced their plan to shutter Google Health a year and a half before the final shutdown date. They're offering multiple data export and migration options, including instructions and support to migrate to their largest competitor, HealthVault. I've had significantly worse experiences with migration / upgrade of many paid services / software - I'm looking at you Intuit.

  • by eulernet (1132389) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @07:00PM (#38559468)

    No, it's not because of capitalism, since IBM and Microsoft are probably even more capitalist than Google or Apple.
    It's a human decision.
    Do you focus on your next quarter, or do you see farther ?

    Google encouraged its employees to work 20% of their time on innovation. Now, I'm sure that this is no more the case.

    Google is taking the easiest route, and when you stop taking risks, you don't create anymore.
    The option "let's cut all useless expenses" is necessary only when you are in big financial trouble, otherwise, it's just plainly stupid.

    Let's see how the stock market will respond now.

  • by Kalriath (849904) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @07:41PM (#38559708)

    No, you're wrong there. Google sells access (for advertisers) to an extremely large pool of people whom use Google services. Google does not sell anything to that pool of people. While it might be slightly disingenuous to say that the pool of people is the product, they most certainly are not the customers.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @07:42PM (#38559714)

    Had you actually heard about Google Health before today? Be honest.

    And if you had, what would your level of interest be in handing over your health records to google?

    Thats why this cancellation is really not any surprise at all.

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