Rethinking Healthcare

Google Health 2.0 goes the app way

Google Health 2.0 goes the app way

Posting in Technology

Why is Google letting that sweet, sweet stimulus cash pass it by while it works to build apps only a minority of users will find value from?

A new version of Google Health is being launched today that is much more focused on consumer wellness than the previous offering.

When Google Health first launched two years ago most considered it a competitor to Microsoft HealthVault. The two offerings have since gone their separate ways, with Microsoft focused on integrating with medical enterprises like Cleveland Health and Google now seeking to create Android apps.

Aaron Brown, recruited from IBM six months ago, is now senior product manager, based in New York.

"If you look at things like weight loss and exercise, a lot of people engage in this daily. It's a broad base of consumers and we're trying to target these people."

An example of the new direction is a CardioTrainer app, which launched two weeks ago, and drew 50,000 users with 150,000 exercise sessions posted while the product was still under embargo.

"Microsoft is making an enterprise play. We're a consumer focused company, and Google Health is explicitly aimed at the consumer space."

Google is not worried about the business model and is not monetizing Google Health, hoping instead to benefit from increased search traffic generated by it, Brown said.

But you have to ask yourself. Why is Google letting that sweet, sweet stimulus cash pass it by while it works to build apps only a minority of users will find value from?

Not fair, insisted Brown. "There's a lot of data around the fact that health and wellness and chronic disease care are gaining personal involvement. If you look at the numbers for Weight Watchers or WebMD there are millions of people like that.

"You have to ask how to define success. Microsoft is making an enterprise play. We're a consumer focused company, and Google Health is explicitly aimed at the consumer space.

"We're not about stimulus money, but having consumers engage.

What the Google Health launch does make plain is the success Google Android is finding in the mobile market, as opposed to Microsoft mobile. If Google can win some bragging rights from some health apps, that's a victory.

But in health it's Microsoft that is laughing all the way to the bank.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure