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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 alfrin (858861) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @05:20PM (#38558352)
    I've been an avid user of Google Health for a couple years now. Since the decision to end the service was announced, I've attempted numerous times to find some sense of replacement from HealthVault. HealthVault is a great service, but its hardly equivalent. For instance, HealthVault is merely a storage system for your raw data, and to view it or continue to keep track of it, you have to utilize other services (such as through the Mayo Clinic) with which HV interfaces to manage. It has a lot of possibility, in that you can utilize many specialized services from many different places, however it fails at keeping the experience seemless. You always know that you are leaving to a new site, and often times go through redundant logins and registrations.

    Google Health however kept everything restricted to a couple pages. Your blood pressure measurements, weights and other vitals were displayed in concise graphs The greatest strength of Google Health was its stripped down visuals and your ability to create your own trackers for virtually any metric. I used it to keep track of my migraine headaches in hopes of finding a trend which would reveal possible triggers. Some of the services, such as the Mayo Clinic's personal health manager, which use HealthVault offer similar customization, but they are very stripped down, the interfaces are clunky and, once again, it takes an annoying amount of log-in's and desperate clicking to get into the service.

    I wish Google would just release the source, so that someone else could construct their own version. I for one would. I loved it.
  • by eulernet (1132389) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @06:53PM (#38558956)

    I'm surprised that nobody noticed it: Google is stopping all its future innovations, and concentrate on short-term revenues, which is a decision from their CEO, not by the cost of maintaining the current tools (it's a very small cost).

    Something similar happened in 2000 with the 3M company, when James McNerney from GE became the new CEO.
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_24/b4038406.htm [businessweek.com]
    In 5 years, 3M, which was ranked as the most innovative company in the world, fell at the 7th place.
    This year, 3M disappeared from the 50 most innovative companies, check here:
    http://www.businessweek.com/interactive_reports/innovative_companies_2010.html [businessweek.com]

    McNerney focused on using Six Sigma, and improving productivity.
    3M, based on a culture of innovation since 100 years, had its internal culture almost destroyed in only 5 years.

    The inventor of post-it said that it would have been impossible that the "post-it" concept would have been successful using the new method.

    In my opinion, it's a very short-sighted decision, as you can see with Microsoft and IBM, which invest a lot of money in innovation.
    It's impossible to predict what will work in a few years, and I doubt that the current monopoly of Google on Internet ads will long very last.

    Now, let me give a prediction:
    currently, Apple and Google are ranked 1st and 2nd as the most innovative companies.
    I bet that in 2 years, they won't be in the top 10 anymore.

  • Re:New to me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by imp7 (714746) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @07:04PM (#38559034)
    When I was working for a pharmacy chain back in 2007/08ish, and I got to see a presentation on Google Heath at a conference. Our software provider was partnering with Google to import all your prescription information into Google Health in real time. At the time the idea of being able to have several different pharmacies, doctor offices, and hospitals put your information into a central "electronic health record" was being pushed by Obama's campaign to lower health care costs and save lives. There was money to be had.

    Of course this would be an extremely valuable service for Google, but medical industry is very powerful and clouded by federal laws. As we move forward, electronic health records are still right around the corner and someone will make all the money. I doubt there will be more then one private entity storing your data, but then again it could be like Medicare D and you have to choose from 20+ companies.

    (By the way, the presentation on Google Health was the best and most professional presentation I've ever seen. They hire pros for real.)
  • Re:Lack of Impact (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @08:32PM (#38559648)

    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.

    As a former user of the service, I'm actually not that surprised.

    Out of all the health services I was personally using, the only service that reliably plugged into it was my Walgreens pharmacy. Of course, my doctor could have used it himself, but I didn't even ask. Ever since I've migrated to the US from France, I've given up asking non-French doctors to fill out my medical blue book (my medical blue book contains all the medical records I've had since I was a baby, I do not know if they still use it in France now, but I love having all my medical information summarized and centralized in one thing that I actually have control over).

    For me Google Health was just like a big empty spreadsheet that I needed to fill out manually (except for my medication information which could get automatically imported from my pharmacy). I just didn't see any immediate pay off in taking the time of entering that data in it. May be, if I ever have a kid, it might be cool to start keeping something like that from the very first day of his birth (or even sooner, by recording the prenatal care the mother is given), to later give it to him for his information, but for me personally, it just isn't worth it unless my insurance or my doctor's office started participating in it as well (otherwise, I'd just end up duplicating a lot of information manually without a real reason for it otherwise, or just start using something like Excel/Google Docs instead).

  • hoarded (Score:5, Interesting)

    by r00t (33219) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @08:39PM (#38559696) Journal

    records are hoarded by doctors, pharmacies, hospitals

    It's offensive how this works. Take my X-rays for example. My surgeon sent me some place to get them done. He's the one with a clue; they just take pictures. Despite this, they insist on having me wait for some on-staff radiologist to "interpret" the X-rays. They claim state law requires this. (if so, surely because they lobbied for it) Then I'm not allowed to truly own the images, physically or by copyright, and neither is my surgeon. (again by state law, which they surely lobbied for) I'm allowed to borrow the X-rays, taking them to my surgeon so he can see them. I'm sternly warned that I'm violating some law if I don't bring them back. WTF, is somebody covering the storage costs? Fortunately I didn't see a due date, so I'm still "borrowing" my own damn X-rays a decade later and I don't remember who the "owner" is. If I had foolishly been a good boy and returned them, I'd currently have no possible way to access them. The X-rays would be gone, preventing future surgeons from being able to compare them with newer X-rays or being able to make an initial guess before ordering new X-rays.

    The same goes for the dentist. IMHO, it's a racket to encourage repeat business. Come back to us, or you suffer extra X-ray exposure and it won't even be covered by your insurance.

  • Re:New to me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kalriath (849904) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @08:45PM (#38559730)

    Microsoft (or rather Bing) does tend to launch counters to pretty much every Google service and then proceed to refuse to close them when Google closes theirs. Translate API is another example of that.

  • Re:hoarded (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GNious (953874) on Monday January 02, 2012 @09:25AM (#38562704)

    records are hoarded by doctors, pharmacies, hospitals

    It's offensive how this works. Take my X-rays for example. My surgeon sent me some place to get them done. He's the one with a clue; they just take pictures. Despite this, they insist on having me wait for some on-staff radiologist to "interpret" the X-rays. They claim state law requires this.

    I had xrays done, and the on-site radiologist discovered the cracked vertebrae immediately and got me rushed to get an MRI which showed the problem in more detail. If they've simply punted it to the doctor, it would have been hours (and likely end-of-business-come-again-tomorrow) before the doctor would have seen them.

    Since then, I had my hand xray'd following a fracture - there the radiologist wasn't so much checking for the fracture (I told them up front about that one), but to verify the quality of the pictures before they are given to the doctor.

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