Jun 24, 2011 | Category: Google
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.
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.
We first launched Google PowerMeter as a Google.org 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We won’t be able to respond to every email, but we promise we’ll listen.
Posted by Aaron Brown, Senior Product Manager, Google Health and Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar