Google and Health: Why More is Better

image Two items of interest today; both good news for stimulating the transformation of healthcare into the digital age and giving consumers more control over their health information.  The first announcement comes from Google and a pilot they will run with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.  Up to 10,000 patients who use a portal provided by the clinic's EMR vendor will participate in a trial program.  The goal is to help them store and share their health information with other community healthcare providers.  Why do I even mention something the competition is doing?  Because it's all good in moving us closer to a more consumer-centric health system.

Transforming healthcare is an incredibly complex challenge – one which no single organization can solve alone. Last October, Microsoft launched the beta version of HealthVault; an Internet-based service that helps people find, securely store, and share health information with whomever they want.  We are working with more than 100 innovative organizations – from leading medical providers, health management device manufacturers, and national health agencies to help merge healthcare into the kind of experience, resources, and on-line tools consumers have come to expect from other industries in the Internet age.  The fact that Google, Revolution Health, and other companies are similarly focused is good for consumers and for the kinds of information, products, and services that will become available over the next few years. 

The second item of interest today is Microsoft's commitment to openness andBrad Smith, Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie interoperability.  This morning, Microsoft executives (from left Brad Smith, Steve Ballmer and Ray Ozzie) announced important changes to the company's technology and business practices that will further enhance the interoperability of our products and expand the technical information we share with developers, partners, customers, and competitors.  A top priority for Microsoft is to help developers and solution providers everywhere by being inclusive of industry standards. This too is great news for the healthcare industry where interoperability between different applications, systems, and solutions is crucial to providing clinicians with a complete view of their patients' health data.  Such interoperability is also critical in helping us (as well as Google, Revolution Health, and others) build solutions that will give consumers more control and better access to their personal health information.

Learn more about all of this at HIMSS 08.  I hope to see you there!

Bill Crounse, MD  Senior Director, Worldwide Health   Microsoft Corporation

Comments (14)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting news from Google indeed. Cleavland Clinic is big customer and user of Epic (Epic Systems Corporation in Verona, Wisconsin) products. It looks like Google managed talk Epic into opening their silos for public use. Epic is the largest healthcare software provider in the USA and has large customer base and fact that it can work hand in hand with Google raises challenge for Microsoft HSG to the new level. It will be interesting to see if HSG can respond to this.  The most challenging in all this is that as a fact of matter that most clinics and hospitals require Epic certification nowadays in the USA  (likewise Microsoft certifications for IT professionals) and it may well be that Microsoft is too late for this game.

  2. hlthblog says:


    Thanks for your comments.  Epic is indeed an exellent vendor although better known in the enterprise clinic (ambulatory) space than in hospitals.  HSG is working with more than 100 partners who are building solutions and services on the HealthVault platform.  Healthcare is a very large and complex industry in which no one company will prevail.  The fact that global technology companies like Microsoft and Google are developing solutions for the industry and for consumers is good news for doctors and patients alike.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  3. Anonymous says:

    HealthVault’s partners are mostly vendors for cool gadgets which measure vital signs (temperature, blood pressure etc) and that is it. I doubt there can be more then 10 of them and you are speaking 100+ – sounds like a lie. HSG was not able to pull what Google did with Cleavland clinic. I doubt it can do it at all since now it competes with its old good friends like Epic, GE Healthcare, Cerner etc.  

  4. hlthblog says:


    Don’t be anonymous. Reveal yourself!  

    Yes, we really do have that many partners, including the Mayo Clinic. Need I say more?

    Bill Crounse, MD

  5. Anonymous says:

    No, thank you. I prefer to stay incognito. Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins so what? Epic runs Harvard and Cleavland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Allina etc and makes real money while HSG signs only strategic agreements πŸ™‚ Let’s play by old good saying "Show me the money!".

  6. eHealth says:

    In a post by Bill Crounse of Microsoft, he takes an open attitude about the Google Health announcement this week by presenting a "more the merrier" outlook. "Transforming healthcare is an incredibly complex challenge – one which no single organization

  7. An Anonymous Healthcare CIO says:

    I think a positive difference for Microsoft (with Azyxxi/Amalga specifically) compared to Google’s announcement is that MS is actually playing at the healthcare provider level and forming partnerships with the likes of Johns Hopkins, NY/Presby, St. Joseph Health, Moffitt, Mayo, MedStar, Novant, etc.

  8. Sean K MD says:

    More is usually better as long as it doesn’t lead to fragmentation, since we all know what that has done to our current system.

    And let’s not forget one of the most important and necessary ingredients in transforming healthcare: physicians. The consumer experience should appeal not only to patients but also physicians. Unfortunately doctors, as a whole, have been silent for too long but now it seems like they are uniting on different fronts in order to regain their autonomy, without which all the innovation in the world would only lead to incremental rather than transformative change.

    Physician-entrepreneurs/innovators challenging the status quo are on the right track. The following is a link to an important physician-led campaign that speaks to this emerging reality:

  9. hlthblog says:


    Thanks so much for your comment. Yes, we need young, bright innovative docs to help drive change in the industry.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  10. Sam Adams says:

    I’m glad to hear Physician’s getting motivated – you docs are typically the brightest of the bright and the most motivated amongst us, otherwise you wouldn’t be docs. And you’re practical, not ivory tower theorists.

    However, I do hope that this (r)evolution also recognizes that it’s not just docs, it’s docs and "mom’s"(typically the first line of triage)/patients that need to work *together* to ensure clinical data is safe, transportable, useful and usable and that HIT vendors are held to a higher accountability standards than they have been to date.

  11. hlthblog says:


    Microsoft is fully committed to the consumer side of health and healthcare.  HealthVault is all about "Moms"and everyone who is the family care manager.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  12. sully says:

    I was not hired by Epic Systems, but they have a wonderful campus like structure that they work in.

  13. arumi says:

    It isn'ta big surprise that Google is thinking about healthcare. The USA might as well become like a 3rd world country, this is worst deal I have ever read much less Google controlling the Health Care

  14. hlthblog says:

    This isn't about "controlling health care".  If fact it is quite the opposite.  It is about giving patients access to their own information.  It is about putting patients at the center of care.  It is about a more consumer-centric approach to healthcare and improved communication and collaboration with the physicians and others who care for you.

    Bill Crounse, MD

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