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Google announced that it is discontinuing plans for Google Health in January 2012. This is a disappointment for may in the medical tourism industry that hoped this would pave the way for the “global patient record,” and who used Google Health Record as their model for this. Google announced Google Health in 2007 saying:

“By digitizing health records and giving control over them to the patients, they will be able to make better informed decisions. With health records stored in a central server, patients will be able to access them from anywhere, whether they move to a new city or are traveling while on vacation, so that, in an emergency, unfamiliar health care providers can get a comprehensive view of their health history” 

This certainly seemed like it could prove to be a milestone for the world of medical travel, enabling access to health records with ease from any location, and without the high cost of typical Electronic Health Record (EMR) implementation. The following factors were given in reason for Google withdrawing the system:

Slow rate of adoption – Questions lingered about the need for a “global patient record” in the medical tourism sector. The argument is that while the global patient record is a great idea conceptually, its useful implementation is still probably a long way from reality.

No revenue stream – Google was having problems monetizing Google Health. In the medical tourism industry, the question stands on who is to pay for the development, storage of data, and security of the system.

Complexity of the market – Making Google Health successful required Google to build relationships with multiple stakeholders that understood the complexity of the healthcare sector, as well as the medical tourism industry…both complex sectors!

What do you think about the demise of Google Health? A hit to the medical travel community, or are there too many more fundamental steps that must be taken before something like the “global patient record” can become a reality? Leave your comments and thoughts below!

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