Google's lengthening shadow


Google's lengthening shadow

OK, realistically, every move Google makes creates something of a stir-inside or out of health IT. But in this case, Google is a bit more visible than usual. Not only is it insinuating itself into the health IT world with what (for Google) seems like an unusual amount of finesse, it's gotten the interest of some of that world's top execs. (See below)

Even if it goes full-tilt into the EMR market, Google's immense power doesn't offer it any guarantees. Sure, millions upon millions of consumers rely on Google every day. But millions of consumers rely on Windows, too, and you don't see Microsoft releasing a world-beating EMR either. Turning even a mind-bogglingly strong presence in consumer interactivity into an enterprise IT position isn't as easy as it might seem. And what will its business model be? Early stabs at seeding an EMR with AdSense ads makes sense, but it won't be enough to support Google's corporate ambitions.

Nonetheless, this is definitely worth watching. After all, while we're all used to seeing great big ol' players like Microsoft and IBM posture, not to mention the usual suspects in electronic medical information, like McKesson, Google is coming from a different world. Search is a consumer play, with its own rules and its own audience. Who knows what fresh ideas and strengths it will be able to leverage here?

Even if it doesn't have revolutionary ideas, it can always buy them. To build momentum, Google will almost certainly strong arm its way into the EMR space by acquiring a major EMR technology player. I'm not specialized enough in the EMR world to target a particular acquisition target, but I'll bet some of my readers are. (Any suggestions? Write to me!) I'm guessing this will happen in as little as 12 to 18 months.

All told, despite its gigantic market footprint, I can't imagine Google taking too much market share away from the Epics and McKessons of the world. But it certainly does stand to shake things up, especially in the PHR market where Google is likely to excel. Just watch this space. To say you haven't heard the last of this is an understatement.--Anne

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