Google’s healthcare ambitions — the ultimate second opinion
I’ve been trying to elucidate Google’s rumored healthcare plans for quite some time now. Google’s plans are outlined in these two posts on Google’s blog: How do you know you’re getting the best care possible? and Is there a doctor in the family?.
The post titles lay it out pretty well. Google wants to be your trusted source of information in health matters. Is you surgeon’s recommended knee surgery the best option? Which drugs are best for your form of diabetes? etc.
There’s been a shift in the past 50 years away from the doctor-centric model of healthcare to one in which patients expect, and demand, better information and control over their treatments. Google’s not the first to try this, but they weren’t the first search engine either – we’ll see if they can’t fix health information the same way they fixed search.
Evolving “away: fron a doctor centric model is already a major trend in the treatment of diabetes. Surveys of physicians by my company, ChangeWave, have shown this trend to be accelerating over the past five years. And, by driving the creaiton of new products and services, benefits patients and investors.
Patient choice and convenience, which drives patient choice, is not well understood on Wall Street. Street analysts often rely on anecdotal feedback from endocrinologists specializing in diabetes and on the insight provided by consultants such as David Kliff, write of the Diabetic Investor. Many of these analysts are also former scientists. These folks are into sciences, and the precision of treatment regimens, and in the case of the practicing physicians, the treatment protocols they have developed, understand and use with success. All of this adds up to a bias against new products and a near complete disdain for patient convenience.
Patient convenience is very, very important, not just in determining what products may win in the marketplace but in driving the most important ingredient in diabetes treatment – patience compliance with prescribed treatment regimens. For example, diabetics should test their blood sugar at least four times a day; the average patient in the US tests less than four times a week.
A great example of how this troika of experts on Wall Street can miss things is the blockbuster drug Byetta from Amylin (AMLN). ChangeWave surveys showed the drug would be a runaway hit; the experts said no. We were right; they were wrong; the stock has nearly tripled since Byetta hit the market. What the average doctor understood was the convenience of predictable, twice a day pen based injections, rather than fumbling with pills at various times of the day, and the loss of weight by patients, when most diabetics gain weight on their meds, would make it a hit.
The bottom line: more informatoin means more choice and with that, success.
In doctors’ point of view that will be hell. Patients holding an abundance of, sometimes incorrect information. Every consultation will take ages just discussing with the patient.