Google Shutters Health Records Site

Google was among the companies to rush into the world of digital health, but it's closing the doors on its Google Health site at the beginning of 2012.

This article published with permission from The Burrill Report.

Google says it will shut down its Google Health service at the end of this year after the program failed to achieve the traction the company had hoped to see.

The web search giant says despite its expectation that the service would help people make smarter choices in managing their personal health and wellness, the program didn’t scale as well as it had hoped following its May 2008 launch.

Google was among a host of high-tech giants that have raced into the emerging world of digital health because of its huge market potential and the demand to employ technology that could reduce cost of health care and improve quality. Google's exit suggests that the world of health care may pose hurdles greater than these companies may have realized at first.

The site was conceived as a safe and secure way to collect, store and manage medical records and health information online and allow individuals more control and access to them. It promised to make it easier to share one’s own data with family, friends and doctors, and it offered tools to track activities like daily sleep and caffeine intake. Despite these capabilities, the site was widely believed to require users to do too much data-entry on their own.

“There has been adoption among certain groups of users like tech-savvy patients and their caregivers, and more recently fitness and wellness enthusiasts,” the company said in a blog posting announcing the closure. “But we haven’t found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people.”

Electronic medical records are a key component of plans to achieve new savings and efficiencies in U.S. health care, with provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandating hospitals and clinics to use electronic records in a “meaningful” way by 2015.

Google Health will close on January 1, 2012, though users of the site will be able to download their health data for an additional year beyond that.

Copyright 2011 Burrill & Company. For more life sciences news and information, visit www.burrillreport.com.