Friday, June 29, 2007

Google Health Advisory Council Misses the Boat

Google, in its cultural ubiquitousness and apparent desire to touch on every aspect of society, has created a Google Health Advisory Council with a mission, as reported on the Google Blog, to "help us better understand the problems consumers and providers face every day and offer feedback on product ideas and development." The announcement continues: "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."

In its infinite wisdom, Google has overlooked many key communities within the broad field of healthcare experts, including nurses. As expected, the Advisory Council is overwhelmingly made up of doctors and executives. With 22 members in all, the Council boasts only five women, and although I cannot say for sure, I am relatively certain that people of color are grossly underrepresented as well. As for "experts" in medical care, where are the patients/consumers, the lay people who struggle with the healthcare system daily? Where are the people on Medicaid, senior citizens, the disabled, the homeless, the uninsured, the underinsured? They are often the real experts, and they are woefully missing as well.

Beth Anderson, RN, editorializes about Google's shortsightedness on NursingLink, and points out that medical librarians are another group of experts who have been neglected by Google in its population of a very limited and narrow Advisory Council. Kim at Emergiblog appears to have been one of the first medical bloggers to speak out about these gross oversights, and I am sure that many more will communicate their disappointment and disapproval to Google in the coming weeks and months. Kevin, MD has also chimed in, adding his voice to the outrage. Here are just a few reactions linked on Kevin's blog. Adding insult to injury, someone from the diabetes community is missing from this "expert" council,which also completely lacks anyone representing the specialty area of mental health, psychology or behavioral science. On the lighter side, Dr. Wes chimes in with an Arthurian twist, while medical librarians voice their disappointment and outrage.

Google may be very talented at gobbling up major slices of the world without swallowing, but in attempting to create an Advisory Council on healthcare, the good folks at Google seem to have choked on their own hubris. Perhaps the feedback will cause some buyers remorse and compel Google to rethink their strategy. Or perhaps they will steamroll ahead with their Ivory Tower council and continue to spurn those from whom we have the most to learn about healthcare, access to healthcare, and the vicissitudes therein.

Are you listening, O Mighty Google?
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