Google is continuing to explore a consumer-facing health record, more than a year after first launching a user feedback program, according to Chief Health Officer Karen DeSalvo.
“We’re still testing and learning,” DeSalvo told Healthcare Dive at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday. “It’s an ongoing curiosity.”
The tech giant is testing and evaluating features of a personal health record, not currently building a standalone tool, as it weighs big questions like how it should be hosted and whether consumers even want a personal health record, DeSalvo said.
Tech giants including Google have tried and failed to create a consumer-friendly electronic health record, though efforts have been revitalized amid recent government regulations freeing up medical data from siloed systems.
Google first launched a user feedback program last April to see how patients might want to keep and view their medical data after pulling it from provider patient portals, STAT News reported.
The user testing comes more than a decade after Google attempted to create a new digital health record in 2008, called Google Health. Google shut down the high-profile project after four years, citing difficulties getting adoption into the daily health routines of patients.
Yet consumers have become increasingly open to accessing their health information electronically. The number of hospitals allowing patients to use third-party apps to view data jumped from 2018 to 2019, and more U.S. patients are using online portals to access medical information, according to government data.
Google’s efforts around patient medical records comes as rival company Apple launched a health records section in its Health app in 2018. The app allows users to pull their records from hospitals and medical offices and hold that data on their iPhone.
Despite disbanding its health-specific unit last year, Google has remained active in the healthcare industry, creating new provider appointment scheduling capabilities online and launching tools to help healthcare companies make their medical images more interoperable and actionable through AI and machine learning.
Google Health is focused both on coordinating health ventures internally and linking different offerings. That ethos has given rise to products like Device Connect for Fitbit, an integration between Google Cloud and Google’s wearables business that launched in September, and a new app, called Health Connect.
Device Connect for Fitbit is meant to make it easier for healthcare and life sciences organizations to use Fitbit data for patient monitoring, research and population health projects, according to the company.
Health Connect, which rolled out on Monday, assimilates data from eligible health, wellness and fitness apps and brings it onto a single platform. The app allows Android users to sync and track their lifestyle goals in one place using data from variety of participating apps, like Peloton, Oura and Flo.
Also on Monday, Google Cloud announced it was linking with EHR giant Epic to build an offering that will allow clients to run their Epic workloads on Google Cloud, and launched three new healthcare data engine accelerators to address common pain points for health system clients.