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.