Google Health Closing the Book on Health Records

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Google announced yesterday that it is giving up on its vision to help people access their health and wellness information online [1]. The internet search giant will discontinue Google Health at the end of the year.

Google Health

Google Health was introduced in 2008. The goal of the service was to organize health information and allow users to make their medical records available to doctors or pharmacies. Additionally, Google Health could be used to learn about potential drug interactions, refill prescriptions online or get personalized health information based on their profile.

Although early trials indicated that patients were eager to use the Google health records, the service never gained significant traction.

On Friday, Aaron Brown, Senior Product Manager for google Google Health, wrote on the Official Google Blog [1]:

Now, with a few years of experience, we’ve observed that Google Health is not having the broad impact that we hoped it would. There has been adoption among certain groups of users like tech-savvy patients and their caregivers, and more recently fitness and wellness enthusiasts. But we haven’t found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people. That’s why we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the Google Health service.

A bigger question is whether this means the end of online health records?

The answer is, not likely. Earlier this month Microsoft announced that it has added libraries for the HealthVault SDK (software developers kit) to allow developers to build applications for Windows Phone 7. The company plans to add libraries for Android and the Apple iOS within weeks [2].

Unlike Microsoft, Google didn’t gather many health industry endorsements. Microsoft HealthVault partners (called “solution providers”) currently include the American Cancer Society (ACS), American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic Health Manager, CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens.

Microsoft positioned HealthVault quite differently from Google Health. Google Health attempted to be a functional health central — both a personal health information (PHI) and a personal health records (PHR) platform. The service was focused on B2C (business to consumer). In contrast, Microsoft HealthVault is just a personal health information platform (PHI); the service facilitates you working with service providers. This B2B (business to business) focus allows Microsoft HealthVault to let 3rd parties take on the responsibility of developing applications and signing up users.

Google Health will continue to operate as usual through January 1, 2012. The company will provide an ongoing way for people to download their health data for an additional year beyond that, through January 1, 2013.


  1. An update on Google Health and Google PowerMeter. Official Google Blog. 2011 Jun 24.
  2. HealthVault breaks free from the desktop! Family Health Guy. 2011 May 31.
About the Author

Walter Jessen, Ph.D. is a Data Scientist, Digital Biologist, and Knowledge Engineer. His primary focus is to build and support expert systems, including AI (artificial intelligence) and user-generated platforms, and to identify and develop methods to capture, organize, integrate, and make accessible company knowledge. His research interests include disease biology modeling and biomarker identification. He is also a Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH, and lead writer at Highlight HEALTH.