In a surprising move that caught many in the industry off-guard, titan Google announced that the leader of its stagnant online health initiative has left the company. You can read the full story over at Reuters
Bosworth, better known for his software engineering accomplishments, probably was not the best choice for this leadership role to begin with. A guy with a sharp mind and wit to follow, his expertise was more technical in nature than necessarily having the wheeling and dealing skills to bring together all of the players in U.S. healthcare. Which is a much larger challenge than I think even Google realizes.
Bosworth may have been stymied, too, by Google itself. With such a huge corporate play into this area, it’s hard to do something different enough to establish it as “Google-centric” and valuable to the average Internet user. While Google values how quickly it can develop and nurture Internet technologies for tools, it hasn’t been able to bring any Google magic to this area whatsoever.
Google’s only current health offering, via Co-op, is a simple tagging application that is very people-work intensive. Is this really the best technology can offer us, having thousands of random people going around “tagging” content? Might as well have monks transcribing health pages in their monastery.
The previews of Google’s online personal health record didn’t light any fires under anyone in the PHR world. The only reason people get scared when Google enters a market is because of the vast people it brings with it. But only If it implements well. (You only need to look at the vast network of orphan Google products to see that everything it touches does automatically take off.)
Hopefully, Google will take Bosworth’s leaving as a sign. Get someone in there with deep and extensive healthcare knowledge and background to lead this effort. And do something a little more interesting than tagging health content or an online health record.