In politics, every serious candidate for the White House has a healthcare plan. So too in business, where the two leading candidates for Web supremacy, Google and Microsoft Corp., are working up their plans to improve the nation's healthcare.
By combining better Internet search tools, the vast resources of the Web and online personal health records, both companies are betting they can enable people to make smarter choices about their health habits and medical care.
"What's behind this is the mass consumerization of health information," said David Brailer, the former director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, who now heads a firm that invests in health ventures.
It is too soon to know whether either Google or Microsoft will make real headway. Healthcare, experts note, is a field where policy, regulation and entrenched interests tend to slow the pace of change, and technology companies have a history of losing patience.
And for most people, typing an ailment into a Web search engine is very different from entrusting a corporate titan with personal information about their health.
Google and Microsoft recognize the obstacles, and they concede that changing healthcare will take time. But the companies see the potential in attracting a large audience for health-related advertising and services. And both companies bring formidable advantages to the consumer market for such technology.
Read more (registration may be required).