Microsoft Bing, Google compete with health maps

Microsoft Bing and Google have launched separate health maps that aim at making community healthcare data more transparent for consumers so they can make healthier decisions.

 

Microsoft Bing announced on June 1 that in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Institute of Medicine its health team would be participating in the Community Health Data Initiative, a national initiative to help consumers and communities get more value out of the nation's wealth of health data.

Part of the initiative is the release of a new Bing Map App dubbed "Bing Health" says Chris Pendleton, Bing Maps technical evangelist for Microsoft. The app allows consumers to select health indicators like those relating to birth, death measures or health risk factors, for the entire United States, by county.

"We're thrilled to support HHS and the Institute of Medicine in making health information more accessible and meaningful to help people make healthier decisions," said Alain T. Rappaport, general manager of health search in the Bing group at Microsoft. "This is just the beginning; imagine what could be done with more data and more ways to access and make sense of it. We're excited about the opportunity and are committed to promoting healthier decision making."

Google, which is also participating in the Community Health Data Initiative, demonstrated on June 2 how it combined the information that HHS has published about communities, hospitals and nursing homes with its Google Fusion Tables, a database service in the cloud that makes it easy to explore, visualize and share structured data, said Google executives.

"Using Fusion Tables we created a customized map to display information from the database. For example, you can see a map of 'heart friendly' and 'people friendly' hospitals, based on statistics from HHS," said Roni Zeiger, MD, chief health strategist.

"It's important to note that the science behind measuring the quality of hospitals and healthcare in general is still evolving, so we can't make definitive conclusions from this data. However, this kind of transparency will lead to discussion, questions, and analysis, which we hope will improve choices and outcomes," he said.