More Vaporware From Google Health. Just Launch It Already.

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google-health-logo.pngGoogle’s Marissa Mayer put out another teaser today about its long-anticipated, much-delayed Google Health service. The post on the Official Google Blog offers some screen shots (below) and lays out what consumers can expect. But other than a pilot announced last week with the Cleveland Clinic, there is no mention on when Google Health will actually launch. Meanwhile, Microsoft launched its own rival HealthVault way back in October.

Like HealthVault, Google Health will allow you to download your health records from doctors and hospitals, and create your own medical profile. Also like HealthVault, it will let you search for doctors and provide online tools to manage your health. When you log in to Google Health, you will see your health profile, complete with information about your medical conditions, medications, allergies, procedures, test results, drug interactions, and medical contacts. Security and portability of medical records are key areas of focus for the Google engineers building Google Health.

The real battle, though, is which one can become the de facto platform for third-party health apps. HealthVault is already signing up industry partners. Google has its own approach. It is not quite OpenSocial for healthcare, but that is the general idea. The problem is that most healthcare applications are not Web applications. They work on the legacy technology you find at most hospitals and doctor’s offices. Google is working hard to help port those apps to the Web. Mayer explains:

Right now, this means you’ll be able to automatically import information such as your doctors’ records, your prescription history, and your test results into Google Health in order to easily access and and control your data. Later, this platform strategy will mean that you will be able to interact with services and tools easily, and will be able to do things like schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and start using new wellness tools.

Healthcare is still a largely untapped market on the Web. Whoever can crack it first will open up a huge new market. (For both Google and Microsoft, the opportunity here is health-related search and the very valuable targeted ads that go with that—although Google CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly says there will be no ads in Google Health. Not sure how he’s going to make money then). But enough teasers already. It is time to launch this thing for real. Funny that Google is the one with the vaporware in this case, and not Microsoft for a change.

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