I thought a lot about whether I should write this one or not. For sure there's a set of people who are going to write it off to competitive jealousy - very possibly starting with the guy I'm writing about. But I think it's a real issue, so we'll just see how it goes.

A couple of days ago, Google launched a few new features at Google Health - the key one being a sharing function that lets users invite others to see a read-only view of a health profile. Let me be clear: this is great to see. I am really glad that Google is in the game. They do some things better than us, and the reverse is true as well. I enjoy my interactions with the super-smart folks there, and hope they'd say the same about me. So --- woo hoo, great news --- really!

My problem is not with Google, but with Matthew Holt, a guy who hangs his hat and his consulting business on being a broad expert in "anything to do with eHealth," including "consumers and how they're changing health care." Matthew is the founder of The Health Care Blog, which is indeed one of the best read blogs in health care.

Matthew felt that this new feature at Google was important enough to dedicate a post to, suggesting that it may be a "killer app" and has the "potential to be really disruptive." We agree. Which is why we implemented sharing of HealthVault profiles in October 2007 --- a year and a half ago --- on the day we launched. And why we allow read/write access, and why we allow you to pick which parts of the record to share. On the other hand, Google's interface takes two clicks, we do it in three. I guess that's the killer part? Come on.

Sour grapes? Perhaps --- I do take what we do very personally. But let's look a bit deeper.

A few weeks before Matthew's Health 2.0 conference last year, we had just launched a bunch of new HealthVault functionality. At this time, he had never written in any meaningful way about HealthVault, while there was a permanent area on the home page dedicated to Google Health. After speaking with Matthew, our PR folks asked me to put together a page-by-page tour of the HealthVault interface to give him a complete overview, which I did on my blog as our Nickel Tour. Both at that time and in a post after our demo issues at the conference, Matthew indicated that he would review the tour and do a detailed analysis. Still waiting. Oh, and the tour includes user sharing.

Am I reaching? Let's do some searches on THCB:

This just doesn't add up. We are working with pretty much every major health system in the country at some level. We continue to release functionality, add to our partner list, push the envelope on privacy and security, engage in the debates over standards and stimulus, and little by little are making this stuff really meaningful to consumers. Unfortunately, Matthew's readers don't get to see this progress. Good thing we're working with most of them anyways.

One of these two things is true: either Matthew is harboring some weird hidden agenda to shill for Google over Microsoft, or he simply does not understand the reality of how consumers are changing health care. Either option is just disappointing - because Matthew has an enviable and important pulpit to speak from - and the world needs him to use it responsibly.

Ah well. Things are good --- maybe I am just being too sensitive. I'll just sit back, tear up a bit over our new HealthVault video and then get set for a weekend with the World Baseball Classic.

Comments (5)
  1. HealthCareDeveloper says:

    You have a legitimate gripe, Sean. I’ve been implementing HealthVault for a fairly well-known health care web site (we have 32 hits on Matthew’s blog, fwiw). And while we’ve taken baby steps, as a developer I found it very easy to work with the HealthVault APIs, and the support we’ve received from Microsoft has been exceptional. You’ve been a great partner.

    As you know only too well, we still have a lot of work to do to around figuring out how to make CDA work for true interoperability — and that’s something we will tackle if and when we integrate Google Health.

  2. Vyacheslav Lanovets says:

    Yes, it’s sooo typical for bloggers and press to ignore what MS does while shouting loudly about small things that happen in Google, Apple and Linux worlds.

    I’m from Russia and so for me it looks like MS is "underfinancing" bloggers and journalists 😉

  3. so1oonnet says:

    whole heartedly agree.. i have seen this pattern since a long time. and it is contributing to a lot of ‘ill perception’ in the industry. there lies a lot more responsibility than is being shown.

    when you have a blog that popular, you have are ‘required’ to show more responsibility.

    i love heathvault as much as i love google health for the simple reasons. we need them.

  4. Unlike many others, I was not all that impressed with the latest Google announcement and basically said so in my post on the subject (www.chilmarkresearch.com).  As I pointed out there, the functionality that Google was announcing has been a common feature of PHRs for years and though I did not mention HealthVault’s functionality in this regard, I am certainly aware of it.  

    What really frustrates me beyond the over-hype of the golden boys & girls in Mountain View that many fawn over is that this functionality is just so mundane.  I mean really, all they did was port over the Google Docs sharing function to Google Health.  Is this really worth writing about?

  5. Dan says:

    While the healthcare blog is an interesting idea – i sometimes question where they put their focus.  Google’s announcement? does it really matter what he says? HealthValult is picking up institutional clients which is all that matters.  I had the opportunity to sit at the table with some google people @ the Health 2.0 conference in SFO last year.  (They all were about 12) – they were there to listen to their old fearless leader (Adam Bosworth) and his new thing @ Keas… I got done listening to Bosworth’s speech – nice idea – but hasn’t that been done?  People tracking their wellness online… just goto a myriad of places (healthplans for example) you can do that in a flash… The problem with HCIT is interoperability as well as a host of PHR issues.  People need to focus on making sure that if I code and am in the hospital that they can get my prescription history in as quick as manner as possible.  

    Holt doesn’t focus on these types of things – I also think that some of the vendors presenting aren’t focused on Health 2.0 – they are more Web 1.0 meets healthcare + some cool Ajax stuff… but if you’re fascinated with google, then you’re fascinated with google…

    boy this is a ramble.

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