I can't tell you how many visitors have come to my site based on a few posts I wrote about the VA putting Vista Office into the public domain - gobs of them.

Early this afternoon I noteced Google search terms like "Google EMR business model" in my server logs. It wasn't long before I came across this (from FierceHealthIT):

An emerging San Francisco-based vendor has struck a deal with search
giant Google to distribute Google text ads within its EMR, a step which
may mark the first time that an EMR vendor has financed its offering
this way. The Google ads will be generated based on keywords drawn from
patient clinical data. Because it's agreed to let the ads into its
Web-based EMR, vendor Practice Fusion will be able to offer the EMR to
physicians for free. It had previously sold its software-as-a-service
product on a subscription basis. The new EMR should be fully rolled out
within four months.

Vendor Practice Fusion has shifted their business model from a paid subscription to an ad based model. There has apparently been some hand wringing about privacy - Google software looks at the web page to decide which ads to put up - you can be sure that's the first thing the vendor nailed down in contemplating this move. Since this is all in software over the Internet, physician users will have to trust both Google and Practice Fusion to privacy is really maintained. But I'll bet doctors can put up with a lot for a free EMR. On the other hand, should there be security breaches I doubt Practice Fusion will be given much slack from their customers. From a Government HealthIT story:

Advertising sold through Google’s system will finance the service, said
Ryan Howard, chief executive officer of Practice Fusion. The company
will also provide the EHR through a standard for-pay model, he said,
but focus groups have indicated a greater potential acceptance of the
free EHR.

“In this case the physician is the standard consumer
for the ads,” Howard said. “When they realize this will allow them to
offset the $50,000 per seat it could cost them with traditional EHRs,
physicians tell us this will be no big deal.”

Ah, the times they are a changin'. I can just see future academic papers being written on the impact of pharma ads delivered with the physician's EMR; I can also imagine pharma is anxious to put those ads up on pages with patients whose diagnosis matches their latest blockbuster drug.

Be sure to check out Practice Fusion's CEO blog here.

UPDATE: Reader Vince Kuraitis points us to an interesting article on Practice Fusion's "deal" with Google from journalist Neil Versel (who has plenty of objectivity in my book). It seems Practice Fusion is using Google's AdSense program to generate the ads on their web delivered EMR app.

“It was much better than anticipated,” says Ryan Howard, founder and chief executive of Practice Fusion, of the initial response to an offer made last week in conjunction with a first-of-its-kind arrangement with Google’s online advertising service.

Google spokesman says that this is not the long-anticipated major entry
into healthcare for the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet search
giant. “This shouldn’t be interpreted as a product move on Google’s
part,” says Brandon McCormick. “This is not any more [of a business
relationship] than we would make for any other mid-size company. What
they do is give us keywords that we match advertising to.”

Perhaps Howard is guilty of a bit overspinning - not that I blame him. Practice Fusion's whole strategy is to create buzz and awareness about their product's attractive price.

Google's been up to something substantial in health care for more than a year - I've been getting hits from Google domains for 18 months, and not search bots but real users moving from page to page. In fact the Google spokesman distances themselves from Practice Fusion a second time in the story by saying, "Practice Fusion’s participation in our AdSense program is not exclusive
and should not be read as an indication of any product plans by Google.”

Can't wait for the other shoe to drop.