Google Health to shut down

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Tech giant Google has announced that it will shut down Google Health, its attempt to create a health informatics tool available to the general public, according to the company’s official blog.

“When we launched Google Health, our goal was to create a service that would give people access to their personal health and wellness information,” Aaron Brown, a senior product manager at Google, wrote in the official announcement. “We wanted to translate our successful consumer-centered approach from other domains to healthcare and have a real impact on the day-to-day health experiences of millions of our users.”

Brown stated, however, that the experiment had not succeeded as much as its organizers had hopes, causing the company to pull the plug on the project. While some patients and healthcare providers had adopted the system, Google Health’s limited usage fell far short of the company’s expectations that it would become an important part of the healthcare industry.

As a result, Google Health will officially be shut down on January 1, 2012. The blog post announcing the end of the program also said, however, that it would remain online for another year so that users could download their personal health information and enter it into other similar health informatics tools that will continue to exist.

Formats for the downloadable records include a PDF, an industry-standard Continuity of Care Record XML file, comma-separate value files, HTML data notices and a large unified ZIP archive.

Dave Chase, who founded the health division at Microsoft, wrote in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that Google Health may have failed because the company did not make enough of an effort to promote use of the the product among clinicians, opting instead to focus on patient marketing.