Google Health: Fatally Flawed

April 14, 2009

Jay Parkinson, MD, wrote “Google Health Will Belly Flop” here. The point of the write up is to identify some flaws in the Google Health beta service. You can read about Google Health here. Dr. Parkinson wrote:

Each and every piece of multi, multi-million dollar bloated piece of crap healthcare “electronic medical record” (sounds about as dated as electronic mail, doesn’t it?”), is simply a billing engine to communicate a medical diagnosis to insurance companies with the hopes of maximizing how much doctors are paid.

He added:

And now Google wants you to have access to this coded language that you, nor your doctors, speak. The assumption is that this will empower consumers and drive advertising revenue to Google based on these medical codes. And then you log in to Google Health and see a language that’s impossible to interpret and, most of the time, simply inaccurate. But these are your medical records found in one of the highest ranking hospitals in America.

I don’t know anything about medicine and I know even less about the exciting world of insurance billing and DRGs.

I agree that there are some interesting challenges in health information. I think there’s a field called medical informatics to tackle some of the issues.

What I learned in the Houston Wellness Association meeting earlier this month was:

  • Vendors know that a pile of Obama dollars will become available to tackle some of the medical record issues, among others
  • There are dozens of outfits in Houston alone angling to address the medical information mess
  • It is very early days for the incumbents like Cerner and parvenus like Google and Microsoft and the entrepreneurs. Lots of demos and lots of confusion are what I perceived.

I urge you to read the doctor’s analysis. You may also want to consider that the marketing battles about medical information have yet to begin. The US in many ways reminds me of Brazil in the 1950s but without the good humor and the resources. Like other core pieces of infrastructure, the medical information system is struggling. I don’t want to count out the US government, its contractors, outfits like 3M or Siemans, and the others jockeying for position.

I know there will be a need for search because in my opinion it is tough to find documents in a small, unregulated organization like the local accounting firm. I see the belly flop as an opportunity. Yippee.

Stephen Arnold, April 14, 2009


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