Differentiate with digital

Watch Out Translators, Google Wants Your Job!

Alex Kramer Researcher
Kate McCarthy Senior Analyst
Michael Facemire Vice President, Principal Analyst
October 5, 2017

Google after second shot disrupting healthcare-and Apple-with Health 2.0 announcement 

Google made several announcements Wednesday around new hardware, software, and developer tools. Capitalizing on the demand for digital healthcare solutions, Google rolled out its HealthX API platform through Apigee at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara. The platform provides endpoints for developers to build HIPAA compliant applications that connect to EHRs on Google Cloud. HealthX stands to compete head-to-head with Apple’s HealthKit. Today, HealthKit enables much of the application development efforts happening in healthcare — from consumer health apps to clinical trials. Apple has dominated the market with the simplicity of their middleware, the security of their environment, and the ease with which they integrate consumer devices. But HealthKit only offers developers the front-end; HealthX offers developers an end-to-end solution. Google demonstrated the power of HealthX and their ecosystem in 30 seconds highlighted by a secure patient appointment scheduling tool built for Google Home.

And that isn’t the only head-to-head play Google announced. Look out Apple AirPods, here come Google Pixel Buds. Up the road in San Francisco at the Pixel event, the Buds were advertised with similar features to the Air Pods, but with one big difference: wireless translation services. Google has added the ability to translate 40 languages with their wireless headphones. And while the Pixel Buds are a cool gadget likely to end up on holiday shopping lists, they offer amazing possibilities in healthcare; initially done by expanding care access while breaking down language barriers.

Personalized digital experiences will improve care and reduce costs. Wednesday’s announcements demonstrate that Google wants a piece of the $3 trillion healthcare pie. Whether Google will fare better than they did in 2008 with Google Health remains to be see, but they are a strong competitor in the race to dominate digital healthcare. Differentiated, highly personalized, digital experiences will win in the new healthcare economy; Google brings a connected ecosystem that stands to deliver.

What it Means

The devil is in the developer details

The high-level Google cloud structure provides simple, standardized APIs to accelerate healthcare developer teams. Google executives are encouraging developers and enterprises to take advantage of the open HealthX APIs on Apigee to expedite EHR-connected apps. But this will not be successful if Apigee’s interfaces are not on par with Apple’s HealthKit API. Most healthcare organizations still lack top developer talent, so HealthX’s success depends on whether it allows developers to navigate healthcare’s dysfunctional ecosystem to produce engaging applications.

Thoughts or questions on any of this? Always happy to chat, reach out to Alex Kramer at @akramer157 or akramer@forrester.com, Kate McCarthy @Healthcare_Kate or kmccarthy@forrester.com, or Michael Facemire @ASocialFace or mfacemire@forrester.com.

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