Google has been playing at the edges of the healthcare industry from a number of angles, with scholarly content, Google Co-op-indexed reference content and a nascent Google Health initiative under the tutelage of Architect Adam Bosworth. The Google Blog announced a new advisory group of healthcare industry heavies that seems to indicate that whatever is on the drawing board at Google is likely to have very broad and deep impact. In addition to the COO of the American Medical Association the advisory group includes major players from research, hospitals, government, foundations and general media. Very notably absent from the group, though, are major publishers of medical research.
This would seem to indicate that a fair amount of Google's focus on healthcare is going to be from a consumer standpoint, but there's another way of looking at this as well. Google is assembling the parties who have the most invested in successful outcomes from the most efficient collection and distribution of medical information possible. In other words, Google is looking at healthcare from the broadest systemic perspective possible - and may as a result be focusing in on new ways to assemble, integrate and deliver medical information and collaboration on a global basis that scholarly publishers are nowhere near ready or able to enable. With enormous inefficiencies in both services delivery and information distribution the medical industry is in a position not unlike the financial industry prior to the introduction of efficient electronic trading information services. This would seem to parallel the highly profitable approaches that Google has taken to other information problems such as advertising that were too caught up in older publishing models for traditional media companies to make the strides that Google made with contextual advertising.
While initial offerings may tend towards modest consumer-oriented efforts on a scale of Revolution Health I sense from what I've been taking in lately that this initiative will challenge the medical content industry even more than the news industry has been challenged by Google's moves into indexing their content. Keep a close eye on both the consumer side of this equation as well as moves into making research, medical insurance and other data more accessible than ever before - with our without traditional medical publishers.