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The Google Health Bear Rouses From Its Slumber

Yesterday, the Internet lit up with news that Google Health will make itsbear.jpeg long-awaited debut in early 2008.  Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco yesterday, Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of Search Products & User Experience, said that Google’s efforts in the health arena will “start with search.”

According to Reuters, Mayer observed: “Google is not a doctor, but people come to us with a lot of health information searches.  There is a big user information need, which we should ultimately fill."

There is a clear need for Google to raise its game when it comes to online health search.  The search engine consistently tops lists as the first place people go to find health information.  However, as noted by Steven Krein and Unity Stoakes of OrganizedWisdom, Google’s results are often marred by spammers and “black hat search engine optimization” companies seeking to prey on the unwitting.  To help with this problem, Stoakes and Krein recently re-launched Organized Wisdom as a “human-powered search engine.”  


OrganizedWisdom Sings Kumbaya

Last week I spoke with Stoakes for an upcoming episode of my WebTV show, The Digital Health Revolution about whether he views OrganizedWisdom as Google’s competitor.  Although he is dissatisfied with the quality of Google’s health search results, he took great pains to strike a conciliatory tone.  Rather than competing with Google, he told me that OrganizedWisdom wants to work it and other search engines to improve the quality of their results.  While algorithms are powerful, he strongly believes that humans can and should be part of the process.  My interview with Stoakes will air sometime next month.  

Google Will Take On Microsoft’s HealthVault

Like its rival Microsoft, Google is also looking at improving the portability and usability of personal health records.  However, rather than building a robust, proprietary software platform, Google wants to make the records portable.  According to Reuters Mayer said:

“[Google] is also looking to figure out how to create transportable personal health records that give users ‘a lot of control’ over who can see such sensitive documents. . . [P]ersonal health records might be stored on a keychain-sized digital storage dongle and protected by passwords. This would allow a consumer to travel around the world and supply their medical records to local doctors in a secure fashion.”

While online health is a multi-year process for Google, look for the bear to arouse from its slumber just in time for Spring 2008.  

3 Comments/Trackbacks

I’m sure that like everything else that Google delves into, their health search will be hugely successful. I am curious to see how it will stack up against Microsoft's HealthVault. No matter who ends up winning the traffic war, both have the potential to help millions of people.

Using a "human-powered search engine" would mean that Google would lose its key competitive advantage over Yahoo. This would also mean that Microsoft using its Medstory will get ahead.

Another problem (for both Google and Microsoft) is their focus on "health care" (read "medical care").

The world is quickly moving to a broader health model based on health determinants, while these two big companies are fighting "health care" wars. Health care doesn’t equal health. Health determinants equal health

The first large company that will put this simple health principle into action will lead the new wellness industry. For a long time. Because it will set the standards. That company will truly help billions of people for generations to come... Best wishes!

We welcome Google's long awaited release of its health portal! if it is as good as their other ventures to date, the American people will be blessed.

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