An update on Google Health and Google PowerMeter

In the coming months, we’re going to retire two products that didn’t catch on the way we would have hoped, but did serve as influential models: Google Health (retiring January 1, 2012; data available for download through January 1, 2013) and Google PowerMeter (retiring September 16, 2011). Both were based on the idea that with more and better information, people can make smarter choices, whether in regard to managing personal health and wellness, or saving money and conserving energy at home. While they didn't scale as we had hoped, we believe they did highlight the importance of access to information in areas where it’s traditionally been difficult.

We’re making this announcement well in advance to give you plenty of time to download the information you might have stored in either product or to transfer it to another service, and we’re making it easy for you to do it in a variety of formats. More on how that works below.

More broadly, we remain committed as always to helping people around the world access and use information pertinent to them. We’ll continue to pursue this goal and to encourage government and industry to do the same.

Google Health
When we launched Google Health, our goal was to create a service that would give people access to their personal health and wellness information. We wanted to translate our successful consumer-centered approach from other domains to healthcare and have a real impact on the day-to-day health experiences of millions of our users.

Now, with a few years of experience, we’ve observed that Google Health is not having the broad impact that we hoped it would. There has been adoption among certain groups of users like tech-savvy patients and their caregivers, and more recently fitness and wellness enthusiasts. But we haven’t found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people. That’s why we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the Google Health service. We’ll continue to operate the Google Health site as usual through January 1, 2012, and we’ll provide an ongoing way for people to download their health data for an additional year beyond that, through January 1, 2013. Any data that remains in Google Health after that point will be permanently deleted.

If you’re a Google Health user, we’ve made it easy for you to retrieve your data from Google Health any time before January 1, 2013. Just go to the site to download your information in any of several formats: you can print and save it, or transfer it to other services that support industry-standard data formats. Available formats include:
  • Printable PDF including all the records in your Google Health profile
  • Industry-standard Continuity of Care Record (CCR) XML that can be imported into other personal health tools such as Microsoft® HealthVault™
  • Comma-separated value (CSV) files that can be imported into spreadsheets and database programs for ongoing tracking and graphing
  • HTML and XML versions of the original “data notices” sent to your Google Health profile by linked data providers
  • A unified ZIP archive that includes all files you’ve uploaded to your profile, plus all of the formats above
Over the coming weeks we’ll also be adding the ability to directly transfer your health data to other services that support the Direct Project protocol, an emerging open standard for efficient health data exchange. And while we’ll discontinue the Google Health service at the beginning of 2012, we’ll keep these download options available for one more year, through the start of 2013. This approach to download and transfer capability is part of Google’s strong commitment to data liberation principles: providing free and easy ways for users to maintain control of their data and move it out of Google’s services at any time.

In the end, while we weren’t able to create the impact we wanted with Google Health, we hope it has raised the visibility of the role of the empowered consumer in their own care. We continue to be strong believers in the role information plays in healthcare and in improving the way people manage their health, and we’re always working to improve our search quality for the millions of users who come to Google every day to get answers to their health and wellness queries.

Google PowerMeter
We first launched Google PowerMeter as a project to raise awareness about the importance of giving people access to data surrounding their energy usage. Studies show that having simple access to such information helps consumers reduce their energy use by up to 15%; of course, even broader access to this information could help reduce energy use worldwide.

Since our launch, there’s been more attention given to this notion of people easily accessing their energy data. The installation of smart meters and other home energy devices is picking up steam, and states like California and Texas are moving forward to finalize policies and programs in this area. Earlier this month, the White House announced a goal of giving all consumers access to their energy usage in computer-friendly formats as part of a national plan for modernizing the electricity grid.

We’re pleased that PowerMeter has helped demonstrate the importance of this access and created something of a model. However, our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would like, so we are retiring the service. PowerMeter users will have access to the tool until September 16, 2011. We have made it easy for you to download your data: simply log in to your account and go to "Account Settings” to export to a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file. We will be contacting users directly with more information on this process.

Momentum is building toward making energy information more readily accessible, and it’s exciting to see others drive innovation and pursue opportunities in this important new market. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished with PowerMeter and look forward to what will develop next in this space.

By helping people make more informed decisions through greater access to more information, we believe Google Health and PowerMeter have been trailblazers in their respective categories. Ultimately though, we want to satisfy the most pressing needs for the greatest number of people. In the case of these two products, our inability to scale has led us to focus our priorities elsewhere.

As always, we welcome your feedback; please share your thoughts and opinions with us at or We won’t be able to respond to every email, but we promise we’ll listen.

Update 7/15/11: We've now added the ability to directly transfer your health data out of Google Health via the Direct Project protocol.

Using search patterns to track dengue fever

(Cross-posted on the Blog)

What does baseball have in common with gazebos? We’re not sure, except that people search on Google for both terms in similar patterns. Last week we introduced Google Correlate, an experimental tool enabling researchers to model real-world behavior using search trends. We’ve heard from many researchers who want to mine this data for new discoveries about economics and public health—much like we designed Google Flu Trends to give an early warning about flu outbreaks. We hope they’re able to make useful discoveries with Google Correlate.

While building Google Correlate, we used it to create an early warning system for another important disease. Google Dengue Trends in Bolivia, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Singapore provides an additional surveillance tool for a disease that affects about 100 million people each year. Dengue is a virus spread through mosquito bites that creates symptoms including high fever, severe headache and pain, rash and mild bleeding. There is no vaccine or treatment, so public health efforts are largely focused on helping people take steps to prevent being infected with the disease.

Singapore has an impressively timely surveillance system for dengue, but in many countries it can take weeks or months for dengue case data to be collected, analyzed and made available. During the dengue outbreak at last year’s Commonwealth Games, we discussed the need for timely dengue information. With help from Professor John Brownstein and Emily Chan from HealthMap, a program at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, we were able to create our system. Using the dengue case count data provided by Ministries of Health and the World Health Organization, we’re able to build a model that offers near real-time estimates of dengue activity based on the popularity of certain search terms. Google Dengue Trends is automatically updated every day, thereby providing an early indicator of dengue activity.

The methodology for this system is the same as that for Google Flu Trends and is outlined in a newly published article in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

We hope the early warning provided by Google Dengue Trends helps health officials and the public prepare for potential dengue outbreaks. For those who live in places where dengue is present, remember to follow the advice of health officials to prevent infection by wearing mosquito repellent and emptying any containers that lure mosquito larvae by gathering standing water.

Update from the Google Health Team

As we exhibit at the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) trade show this year in Atlanta, we want to share with you some of our latest thinking. Google Health has been on the market for a little over two years, and in that time we have seen a growing understanding of the value of consumers being able to own, use, manage and share their medical data online with whomever they choose. While companies like ours work to build technologies like Google Health to make this a reality, we've also seen growing support from the U.S. Government. President Obama has included incentives for doctors to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) in the the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act of 2009 (AARA), and in recent months there have also been a series of Health IT provisions around "Meaningful Use" and EHR Certification all of which should help empower consumers with access to their own information. (Read our recent op-ed for more info about this topic.)

At Google, we understand that changes in the health care industry take time and persistence, including health IT. We have been steadily analyzing feedback from our user surveys and field studies to help make Google Health more useful and relevant to a broad set of consumers on a daily basis. People have been telling us they want more tools to personalize, customize and track their own medical information. These are directions we're certainly exploring, and if you stop by our booth this week at HIMSS you can see a demo of what we're working on.

While we work to refine the Google Health product, we also continue to pursue integration agreements with providers to make it even easier for people to access their own medical information. We've learned over these past two years that getting a current and past medication history assembled and ready in case of emergencies is one of the strongest value propositions for using an online Personal Health Record (PHR). So today at HIMSS, we're announcing an integration with Surescripts, the leading electronic prescribing network in the United States, to help accelerate the availability of prescription drug history to our users. The Surescripts network connects doctors who prescribe medication to all of the nation’s major pharmacy chains, leading health insurance plans and pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), as well as more than 10,000 independent pharmacies nationwide. Surescripts provides access to prescription benefit and history information on behalf of health insurance plans representing 65 percent of patients in the U.S.

Recognizing that hospital and ambulatory data is critical to our consumers, we're also announcing a future integration with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) that will give patients the ability to add health information to an EHR maintained by doctors using their own Google Health PHR. UPMC is working on this integration with Google Health, Carnegie Mellon University and their technology partner dbMotion. Finally, we're announcing the launch of three more integration partners: Citizen Memorial Healthcare (CMH), a rural healthcare network providing care to residents in southwest Missouri, Iatric Systems, an integration consultant, which can facilitate Google Health integrations for hospitals and healthcare systems, and the Withings WiFi Body Scale, which allows Google Health users to seamlessly update their weight and other data to their online profiles.

We hope to see you this week at HIMSS. Come by our booth, see our demo and say hello.

We’re Going (RED) for World AIDS Day

HIV/AIDS has cut a swath of destruction across the globe—infecting more than 60 million people, leaving 14 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa alone. But a global movement to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, along with scientific breakthroughs in treatment, have reversed the momentum in recent years. For those living with HIV in Africa, just two pills at 40 cents a day can bring a recovery so miraculous it’s known as the Lazarus Effect. Watch the transformation of lives in this video:

Thanks to the efforts of The Global Fund and other organizations around the globe, the number of people in low and middle-income countries receiving these medicines has increased ten-fold over 5 years. But fewer than half of those in need of treatment have access. And the number of new HIV infections continues to outstrip the numbers on treatment: for every two people starting treatment, five become infected with the virus.

Taking action has never been easier. Our World AIDS Day page offers plenty of options:
Show your support in other ways, too. On Twitter, from approx. 4 am EST (for 24 hours), include #red to turn your tweets the color red; if you like, follow @joinred. Select the iGoogle World AIDS Day theme on your personal iGoogle homepage. And on Tuesday night (December 1) starting at 8pm EST, watch a live Alicia Keys concert on YouTube benefiting Keep a Child Alive.

Update at 3:20PM: Added info about the iGoogle World AIDS Day theme, another way to show your support.

Finding flu vaccine information in one easy place

This year, it's especially important to have clear information on what you can do to prepare for the flu season. With this in mind, we are happy to share a new feature for the U.S. which allows you to more easily find locations near you for getting both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine. After expanding Google Flu Trends to a total of 20 countries and 38 languages, allowing more people to see near real-time estimates of flu activity, we began brainstorming with the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services (HHS), their collaborators and the American Lung Association on the flu shot finder and other ways Google can be helpful to people this flu season.

You can check out the flu shot finder at The same tool will also be available shortly on and the American Lung Association websites. It's important to note that this project is just beginning and we have not yet received information about flu shot clinics for many locations. In addition, many locations that are shown are currently out of stock. We launched this service now in order to help disseminate information about locations where vaccines are available, and also to make more vaccine providers aware of the project so that they can contribute.

Especially given slower than expected vaccine production, we think it's important to bring together flu shot information in a coherent manner. We've been working with HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health agencies to gather information on flu vaccine locations across the country, particularly for the H1N1 flu vaccine (both the nasal-spray vaccine and the shot). At the moment we have data for locations of flu vaccine directly from 20 states and counting. We are also continuing to add information from chain pharmacies and other providers in all 50 states; today, you'll find results from chains such as Walgreens, CVS and PDX participants, such as Kmart, Duane Reade, WinnDixie and Giant Eagle.

Of course you should still call flu vaccine providers ahead of time to find out more about availability and eligibility for the two vaccines.

We hope to continue providing you with relevant information to help keep you and your loved ones healthy.

Update on 11/19: We just added the flu shot finder as a search feature on Now, if you search for terms like [flu], [flu shot], [h1n1 shot] or [flu vaccine], information will appear at the top of your search results, including flu tips from as well as the flu shot finder box with an expanding map that displays locations where you can receive seasonal and/or H1N1 flu shots.

Fall update on Google Health

We're still hard at work improving Google Health, our online Personal Health Record (PHR). We've gotten valuable feedback from many of you who are importing data into Google Health from connected providers. We often hear that you want to import data from your health insurance plans, so we're working on just that.

Today, at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco, we're announcing the addition of two new health insurance companies to the Google Health platform: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the American Postal Workers Union Health Plan (APWU Health Plan).

The APWU Health Plan, the not-for-profit department of the American Postal Workers Union, now offers Google Health through their High Option PPO plan. Members get 18 months of data copied into their Google Health Account upon linking their member portal with Google Health and then automatic updates from that point on. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care serves more than one million members across Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and beyond and roughly 777,000 of their members who use the HMO, POS and PPO products can securely import their Harvard Pilgrim health history into Google Health. This includes prescription data used in the last year and any records on illnesses, conditions, procedures and immunizations dating back to 2006. Once a member links his health plan portal account with Google Health, his data will be automatically updated when a new claim is generated by a physician.

With these new additions and Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, which joined in December of 2008, we now have three health insurance plans that are connected to Google Health and actively promoting it as a PHR option to their members. We'll be studying how useful this data is to our users, as we've learned that some data is not as useful as others.

We're also working with companies that offer unique "convenience" services, such as secure email and video consultations with doctors. One example is a company called MDLiveCare, a telehealth provider now available in the Google Health online services directory. MDLiveCare is helping to empower patients by sending the complete doctor's clinical note to Google Health from any consultation a patient has with their network of oncall board certified doctors and licensed mental health therapists. Hello Health is another example of a company that facilitates connecting with a doctor online and is launching with Google Health today.

Also, in case you missed our updates, here are some improvements we worked on over the summer:
  • File Upload: Still dealing with paper files at home? You can now upload files you have scanned or have on your computer, such as test results you previously received in the mail. Each file you upload can be anywhere from 4MB to 100MB. Start by completing and uploading an advance directive.
  • Insurance Information: You can now store all of your health insurance information in your Google Health profile, including your plan name, plan ID, group number, subscriber and policy ID and member phone number.
  • Graphing: Keep track of your test results visually to see how key numbers progress over time. If you have more than one cholesterol lab result saved in your profile, you can view these results over time in a graph and track your progress.
Keep tuning in to find out what's in store for Google Health in 2010. And keep the feedback coming. We're still learning a lot from all of you.

Google Health, a first look

It's been a busy week for the Google Health team. Last week we announced our partnership and pilot with the Cleveland Clinic. This week, the team has been at the HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) conference in Orlando, Florida, where Eric Schmidt gave the closing keynote. Eric's keynote marks the first time we've talked publicly about the product we've been designing and building. His talk also offered a deeper view into our overall health strategy. (Watch the video.)

Google Health aims to solve an urgent need that dovetails with our overall mission of organizing patient information and making it accessible and useful. Through our health offering, our users will be empowered to collect, store, and manage their own medical records online.

For the healthcare industry, online personal health records (PHRs) aren't a new idea and, in some cases, online PHRs already exist for patients. Here's what we think sets Google Health apart:
  • Privacy and Security - Due to the sensitive and personal nature of the data that will be stored in Google Health, we need to conduct our health service with the same privacy, security, and integrity users have come to expect in all our services. Google Health will protect the privacy of your health information by giving you complete control over your data. We won't sell or share your data without your explicit permission. Our privacy policy and practices have been developed in thoughtful collaboration with experts from the Google Health Advisory Council.
  • Platform - One of the most exciting and innovative parts of Google Health is our platform strategy. We're assembling a directory of third-party services that interoperate with Google Health. 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 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.
  • Portability - Our Internet presence ultimately means that through Google Health, you will be able to have access and control over your health data from anywhere. Through the Cleveland Clinic pilot, we have already found great use-cases in which, for example, people spend 6 months of the year in Ohio, and 6 months of the year in Florida or Arizona, and will now be able to move their health data between their various health providers seamlessly and with total control. Previously, this would have required carrying paper records back and forth. With Google Health, the user can simply import the data from each medical facility and then choose to share it with the other facilities. It's advances in data portability like this that we think can really make a difference in the quality of healthcare. The clearer and more comprehensive the information regarding your health becomes, the better your care will be.
  • User focus - We aren't doctors or healthcare experts, but one thing Google can create is a clean, easy-to-use user experience that makes managing your health information straightforward and easy. We're still iterating and testing our user interface, but here is what the welcome screen looks like:

    Here is a screenshot deeper in the application:
  • We're proud of the product that we've designed and are continuing to build, but recognize that we are just at the initial stages of our "launch early and iterate" strategy. We look forward to the feedback we will receive from our Cleveland Clinic pilot, from all of you, and from the initial users of our service when we make it publicly available in the coming months.
Update: Added link to video of Eric's talk; refreshed second screenshot.

A pilot with the Cleveland Clinic for health information access

I suffer from poor eyesight and intense seasonal allergies, but I'm thankful that health issues occupy just a small portion of my life. Even though I'm rather healthy, I sometimes find myself needing access to accurate health information. I can get a long way by searching for health facts online, but I also need to incorporate what I find with my own history of conditions and treatments. I didn't even realize I had allergies until my early twenties -- for more years than I care to admit, I'd forget that the "cold" I came down with in April was suspiciously similar to the one I had at exactly the same time the year before. I've often been overwhelmed when trying to determine or track a condition, because my personal record of health information is either nonexistent, or it's spread on forms and receipts from (at least) a dozen doctors and five insurance companies.

Working as an engineer here on the health team, I've been excited to participate in building tools that will help me and others manage our personal health information more effectively. Many innovators in the healthcare industry have worked hard to make results of doctor visits, prescriptions, tests and procedures available digitally. By using the GData protocol already offered in many Google products, and supporting standards-based medical information formats like the Continuity of Care Record (CCR), our health efforts will help you access, store and communicate your health information. Above all, health data will remain yours -- private and confidential. Only you have control over when to share it with family members and health providers.

This week, we hit another important milestone. We launched a pilot with a medical institution committed to giving patients access to their own medical records: The Cleveland Clinic. A large academic medical center, Cleveland is one of the first partners to integrate on our platform. Because of their size and reach with patients who already have access to their medical records online, Cleveland has been a great partner for us to test out our data sharing model. Patients participating in the Cleveland pilot give authorization via our AuthSub interface to have their electronic medical records safely and securely imported into a Google account. It's great to see our product getting into the hands of end users, and I look forward to the feedback that the Cleveland patients will provide us.

Cleveland is just the first of many healthcare providers that will securely send medical records and information via Google APIs at your request. We've been hard at work collaborating with a number of insurance plans, medical groups, pharmacies and hospitals. While this pilot is open initially to just a few thousand patients, I see it as an important first step to show how Google can help users get access to their medical records and take charge of their health information.

Google and health care

In a world of 24/7 news cycles, a summer weekend can bring considerable -- and unanticipated -- excitement. Take for example the reaction we've just seen to an item on our new health advertising blog. Frankly, we were surprised by the pickup, but perhaps we shouldn't have been. We've been proponents of corporate blogging for some time, despite the significant communication challenges that obviously arise from having many voices from all parts of our company speak publicly through blog posts. In this case, the blog criticized Michael Moore's new film "Sicko" to suggest how health care companies might use our ad programs when they face controversy. Our internal review of the piece before publication failed to recognize that readers would -- properly, but incorrectly -- impute the criticisms as reflecting Google's official position. We blew it.

In fact, Google does share many of the concerns that Mr. Moore expresses about the cost and availability of health care in America. Indeed, we think these issues are sufficiently important that we invited our employees to attend his film (nearly 1,000 people did so). We believe that it will fall to many entities -- businesses, government, educational institutions, individuals -- to work together to solve the current system's shortcomings. This is one reason we're deploying our technology and our expertise with the hope of improving health system information for everyone who is or will become a patient. Over the last several months, we have been blogging about our thinking in this area. See: November 30, 2006, March 28, May 23, and June 14, 2007.

In the meantime, we have taken steps on our own to address the failures we see in our health care system. In our case, the menu of health care options that we offer our employees includes both direct services (for example, on-site medical and dental professionals in certain locations) as well as a range of preventive care programs. It's one of the ways we're attempting to demonstrate corporate responsibility on a major issue of our time.

New advisory group on health

Every day, people use Google to learn more about an illness, drug, or treatment, or simply to research a condition or diagnosis. We want to help users make more empowered and informed healthcare decisions, and have been steadily developing our ability to make our search results more medically relevant and more helpful to users.

Although we have some talented people here with extensive backgrounds in health policy and technology, this is an especially complex area. We often seek expertise from outside the company, and health is no exception. We have formed an advisory council, made up of healthcare experts from provider organizations, consumer and disease-based groups, physician organizations, research institutions, policy foundations, and other fields. The mission of the Google Health Advisory Council is broadly to help us better understand the problems consumers and providers face every day and offer feedback on product ideas and development. It's a great privilege for us to work with this esteemed group

Google Health Advisory Council
(Institutions or affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.)

Dean Ornish, M.D., Founder and President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Douglas Bell, M.D., Ph.D., Research Scientist, RAND Health, RAND Corporation

Delos M. Cosgrove, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, The Cleveland Clinic

Molly Coye, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Executive Officer, HealthTech

Dan Crippen, Former Congressional Budget Office Director & Reagan White House Assistant

Linda M. Dillman, Executive Vice President, Risk Management, Benefits and Sustainability, Wal-Mart

John Halamka M.D., M.S., Chief Information Officer, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center & Harvard Medical School and Chairman, Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP)

Bernadine Healy M.D., Former head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Health Editor & Columnist, U.S. News & World Report

Bernie Hengesbaugh, Chief Operating Officer, The American Medical Association (AMA)

Douglas E. Henley, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., Executive Vice President, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)

David Kessler, M.D.,Former FDA Commissioner, Vice Chancellor-Medical Affairs & Dean, School of Medicine, UCSF

John Lumpkin M.D, Senior Vice President, Director of Health Care Group, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

John Rother, Group Executive Officer of Policy & Strategy, AARP

Anna-Lisa Silvestre, Vice President, Online Services, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.

Greg Simon, J.D., President, FasterCures

Mark D. Smith, M.D., MBA, President & Chief Executive Officer, The California HealthCare Foundation

Paul Tang, M.D., Internist & Vice President, Chief Medical Information Officer, Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) & Chairman, Board of Directors, American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)

Sharon Terry, M.A., President & Chief Executive Officer, Genetic Alliance

John Tooker, M.D., MBA, F.A.C.P., Executive Vice President & Chief Executive Officer, American College of Physicians (ACP)

Doug Ulman, President, Lance Armstrong Foundation

Robert M. Wachter, M.D., Professor of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco (UCSF); Associate Chairman, UCSF Department of Medicine; Chief of the Medical Service, UCSF Medical Center

Matthew Zachary, Cancer Patient Advocate, Founder & Executive Director, The I'm Too Young for This! Cancer Foundation for Young Adults

Update: Added links to two more bios.