Google Shutting Down PHR Platform
Despite its mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” Google hasn’t had very much success in the health care arena. The Internet giant announced June 24 that it is retiring Google Health—its online version of a personal health record (PHR) platform, where consumers could organize their medical records.First launched in June 2008, Google said, “we’ve observed that Google Health is not having the broad impact that we hoped it would.” Regardless of the outcome, however, the company said it was a worthwhile venture. Although Google Health “didn’t catch on the way we would have hoped,” the company said it did serve as an influential model for PHRs.
Responding to the news, Jeff Donnell, president of NoMoreClipboard, said, “Google Health has been a great partner, and they have helped raise awareness of the value of personal health records. We are sorry to see Google Health leave the personal health space at a time when patient engagement is gaining traction.”
According to an IDC Health Insights study released in June, only about 7 percent of the public have ever used a PHR. Industry stakeholders are saying, however, that as more providers adopt electronic health records (EHRs) and participate in health information exchanges (HIEs), PHRs will become more useful and gain popularity.
Google Health will be shut down Jan. 1, 2012. Google Health consumers will be able to transfer their information and data to another PHR platform, such as Microsoft HealthVault, WebMD, or NoMoreClipboard, through Jan. 1, 2013. After that, any data that remains in Google Health will be permanently deleted. Most recently, Google has added the ability for consumers to directly transfer health data out of Google Health via the Direct Project protocol, an open standard for health data exchange.