The health is on: Google to launch health site next year

Google Health
Google will launch its online consumer health service early next year. We've known that both Google and Microsoft were working on health related services for a while now. But Microsoft beat Google to the punch, launching its HealthVault portal earlier this month.

So what can we expect from Google Health? Google search chief Marissa Mayer says odds are if you're searching for health information online you're already using Google. The company hopes to leverage its search and data organization technology to help patients maintain their personal health information.

Google Health lets patients store personal medical records, search for health information, manage diet and other health information, and even find local doctors. The service will also have tools that allow doctors to better manage their information, and we assume, share that info with their patients.

But this raises an interesting question. Are doctors going to want to sign up for Microsoft, Google, ZocDoc, and other online services just to communicate with their patients? It seems more likely that an individual doctor or medical practice will pick one service and then stick with it.

For example, if you take your kid to Fluffy Bunny pediatrics, you'll find that the doctors are willing to share all of your child's medical records with you over Microsoft HealthVault. If you sign up for Google Health, you'll have to get old-fashioned paper records. Because otherwise, Fluffy Bunny doctors would have to spend time submitting all of their documents to 2 or more different sites, which would increase their workload, not decrease it. This, of course would force health consumers to sign up for multiple services if they want to make sure they have access to the latest information from all of their doctors, meaning that you're the one with a disorganized mess, not your doctor.

So while we like the idea of having a single online location to conduct all of your health-related searches, store all of your medical records, and keep your doctor and family up to date, we're just not sure there's room for multiple competing services in this market.

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