A lot of press on this in the last few days because Google has finally made an official announcement about Google Health. Now we have both Google and Microsoft working on building out search, storage and connection capabilities for consumers. I have some experience working in health care (corporate/consulting side) and have been watching these initiatives for the last year or so.
I don’t think either one of these companies sees themselves as riding to the rescue of the American health care system on a white horse, but both of them are bringing forward useful ideas, platforms and applications to transform healthcare information systems. The big issue is that they are coming at the problem from outside of the industry – and so there is a lot of criticism. I don’t think this criticism is warranted, as the industry has proven itself fundamentally incapable of modernizing their IT infrastructure.
We know this can be done (see airline booking, online banking and bill payment) and that it is hard to do – but we also know that it is NOT impossible. There are difficult challenges around standards, portability, security and above all privacy, but if people are willing to put their financial lives online (see Quicken, Schwab, Turbo-Tax, etc.) I am willing to bet that these hurdles can be overcome. And I welcome the weight and resources that both Google and Microsoft bring to the problem.
Who will win? Well, I’m not sure which company will win, but I’m sure consumers will.