Should EHR Vendors Integrate Google Search Into Their Software?

Posted on September 18, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One thing I love about Twitter is the on the ground insight you can get into healthcare. Here’s a tweet example of this:

When I read the tweet, I was fascinated by the shift that Eric Topol observed by his residents. I’m sure many doctors out there are cringing at the idea that Google instead of some “trusted” source of information is where new doctors are turning for health information.

I think this view is a little short sighted and ignores the sophisticated ways that people are using Google. I find myself doing this more and more as well as I search out information on the internet. When I’m searching, I don’t always select the top Google result. Instead, I regularly find myself checking the website for that result to see if that website is what I would consider a trusted source. I’m sure that many residents do the same thing as well.

Certainly this shift is not without its pitfalls. Some likely don’t look to see if the Google result is a trusted source. Even what may look like a trusted source might not be trusted. However, I believe this is the minority of people searching (in particular residents).

One other change that’s happening is that many people are triangulating the results from their search. Instead of blindly looking at a result from Google, when you’re making a decision like a doctor is making you’ll often take a look at multiple sources and compare how the results and information compares. Instead of treating Epocrates like the Bible, they’re looking at Epocrates and Medscape and Google and triangulating all that information into what is the best course of action or the best information. This is a very good shift and many in the latest generation just do this naturally.

Since this is largely an EHR site, it makes me wonder if more EHR vendors should be integrating Google searches into their EHR. It wouldn’t have to be blatantly Google. I think the web browser is likely the right implementation to consider. If you highlight a word in the Google Chrome web browser and then right click, it will do a Google search on the highlighted word. Seems like it wouldn’t be too hard to do the same within an EHR.

While the tweet might indicate that companies like Epocrates and Medscape our in trouble (see my post about Taking Down the Epocrates Monopoly), there’s no reason that these health information companies can’t capitalize on Google search results as well. They’ll just have to learn how to get their information listed in Google as opposed to stuck in an app.