IMHO: Google dropping Google Health is just a rumor

By Diana Manos
04:30 PM

There is a rumor out there that Google is planning on dropping Google Health, its personal health record platform. Im going to go out on a limb here, and say it is highly unlikely the rumor is true, in my honest opinion (IMHO).

And here's why. 

The only downside of my argument - and I'll say this up front - is Google has not responded to my several inquires. (And, I still hope they will.) But, I am basing my opinion on several other fairly logical and believable factors.

First: John Halamka, MD, a member of Google's advisory council, a very connected guy in the health IT industry, told me he "has heard no such rumor." In case you've never heard of him - and I'd be surprised if you haven't - Halamka is chief information officer of the CareGroup Health System, chief information officer and associate dean for educational technology at Harvard Medical School, chairman of the New England Health Electronic Data Interchange Network (NEHEN), CEO of MA-Share, chair of the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), chief information officer of the Harvard Clinical Research Institute and a practicing emergency physician. He also informed me that he is currently using Google Health as a patient.

Second: The only major publication to cover this rumor, as far as I know, was the Wall Street Journal, and they did not name their sources when it came to the rumor. They said, "some managers" believe Google founder Larry Page - who will return to the CEO position on April 4 - will eliminate or downgrade projects he doesn't believe are worthwhile.

Third: The rumor was then perpetuated by Gregg Kall, an analyst for the consulting firm, Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG). His March 27 "article" did not provide any confirmation of the rumor, either. I am always suspicious of consultants  (or journalists) declaring things without evidence, especially with such a high-impact, search engine word as "Google." (Clicks, anyone?) To be fair to GLG, the fine print on the article says the opinion is only attributable to the author and not endorsed by GLG.

ZDNet's reporter Mary Jo Foley got a response from Google: "We don't comment on rumor or speculation."

Fourth: Look at the steps Google has recently made in advancing Google Health. Last October, Google unveiled a top-to-bottom redesign, targeting the wellness audience. According to Aaron Brown, senior product manager at Google, the redesign was implemented to "expand the value and utility of this tool to a broader set of users."

Fifth: The jury is still out on PHRs.  As one of our Facebook commenters, Rod Mitchell put it, "it doesn't appear that Google would drop the portal as the market has yet to fully develop."

Who knows. Maybe next week, or in a month, I'll have to eat crow and report this as fact, not a rumor. I know Google - the super power that it is - does not need me to defend it from rumors. But on principle alone, I think we should all think twice before we believe (or Tweet) everything we hear.

Speaking of...did you fall for Google's April Fool's prank? Email operated by body motion? (They really are good!)


Follow Diana Manos on Twitter at @DianaManosHITN.