Thursday, September 22, 2011

What’s Next for Electronic Health Records?

Google Health came on the scene back in 2008 with ambitious plans to revolutionize the way health records are stored and transferred.  Patients could log on to the system and upload their personal records, consolidating them into centralized health profile that was easily accessible. Building and promoting Google Health was a huge undertaking.  Unfortunately, it fell short of Google’s plans and expectations.

In a recent blog post, Google announced it would be pulling the plug on Google Health and that they’d be shutting down the platform completely by January, 2011. Aaron Brown, Senior Product Manager for Google Health, expressed his disappointment, admitting that, “Google Health is not having the broad impact we had hoped it would.”

So what does this mean for electronic health records? Where do we go from here?

To answer that question, we need to look at the primary reason for Google Health’s failure – a lack of early adopters. The platform simply didn’t grow at the pace they’d expected. However, this doesn’t mean it wasn’t being utilized, and it doesn’t mean other platforms won’t succeed.

Industry analysts and experts are quick to acknowledge that personal health records, unlike some other health industry innovations, are driven by individual motivation and effort. Simply having the platform isn’t enough. You have to have individuals willing to log on, input their data, and use the platform for its intended purpose. While Google struggled getting early adopters, the trend is clear: the government, hospitals, doctors and patients are all slowly warming up to the idea of electronic records. Each year, electronic health record platforms are growing. Each year, new applications – like the OnPatient iPad app – are being developed that further digitize the healthcare process.  While Google’s failure was disappointing, there’s no question that electronic health records are going to become adopted on a large scale – it’s just a matter of time.

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