Why Don’t We See More Google for Work in Healthcare?

I was recently sitting down with a number of hospital CIOs and they were talking about the expenses they have associated with Microsoft Office and the move to Office 365. It was fascinating to hear them talk about the costs associated with all of these Microsoft products which still dominate the enterprise healthcare market. In fact, they didn’t once mention any sort of alternative.

I then asked them why they thought we didn’t see more Google for Work in healthcare. It’s been reported that Google for Work now has 2 million paid business customers. My guess is that healthcare makes a very very small portion of those 2 million customers. In fact, I don’t think most organizations really even take the time to consider Google for Work as an option.

The response from the CIOs I was talking with confirmed this suspicion. Each of them had used Google for Work outside of their day job, but they hadn’t ever seriously considered it for their hospital email, document management, calendar, etc. Although, they universally expressed their hate for having to manage their hospital’s messaging system. It’s a no win situation where everyone has the expectation that it will work perfectly 100% of the time and we know that messaging has plenty of opportunities for problems and unexpected downtime.

I’d think that many hospital CIOs would love to offload this headache to Google which likely has a much superior track record for uptime and consistency than most hospital IT departments that are working with limited budget and staff.

As one hospital CIO recently told me, “I’m glad that Cerner won the DoD contract. It doesn’t matter whether I like Epic or Cerner more. I’m just glad to have competition in the EHR market and Cerner winning the DoD project means it’s still a 2 horse race.” I think the same is true in messaging. Microsoft had been the only dog in the messaging race forever. Having Google for Work a legitimate competitor would be a good thing.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • I use Google for work in my small healthcare company, which is both EMR related and has ACO, Employer ERISA health plans, etc.

    I can tell you that the biggest issue for us is that Google work flow is so different that it really confuses people that have used MS Office or even Open Office in a desktop environment.

    It can be done, but not without re-training a lot of people, I have a small staff and it’s an ongoing issue to remind them to use the tools natively.

    Google Drive is very hard to “organize” in a traditional way. It seems to work best if you don’t try at all and just dump files up there and share them and search for what you need when you need them. Traditional folder based organization is cumbersome at best.

    Secure ways to share data outside of your “google for work” environment are iffy and hard for partners to get their heads around.

    I still think it’s the right way to go, but it’s harder that I ever expected.

  • Tony,
    That’s a fair point. I use a mixture of Google Drive and local Word/Excel/Powerpoint. I agree with everything you say about Google Drive. Although, when you compare gmail to exchange, the former is so much easier to manage and use than the later.

  • Email management is the easy part for sure. They did a good job with that and I love the built in “groups” functions. We are heavy users of Hangout internally for fast communication as well.

  • One gotcha that I did not expect. If you use a lot of documents that are meant to be “templates” and then saved as a new Document. You will be bitten. Since there is no “SAVE AS” all changes are saved as you type.

    The workflow has to be Make a Copy first, rename the copy and then edit it. Everyone gets that backwards.

    One saving grace is the revision history tool lets you revert the template document easily

  • Good point about Hangouts. Although, you have to be careful with them in healthcare.

    You’re right about that gotcha. Easily fixed though and recoverable thanks to versions as you mentioned. I love Google docs when multiple people need access to the document. That’s great!

  • Google operates top-down in their marketing. Many times I have thought, if they go bottom-up and promote it, in no-time they will be the biggest, replacing current ones. But Google is so big they have not found the need to do. Its more of in-bound for google. In busy work, no one finds time to learn on their own. When they have problems and their advisors pitch it, they embrace it well. For obvious reasons, they wont get such advise. So they never get to know these systems which can make them so highly productive. The trickle-down-effect will take time. Google-for-Work should do road-shows with many verticals and they will go places contributing to productivity and ease of getting things done. my $0.02
    Regards Varadh

  • Well said Varadh. Although, I did see them do a lot of marketing bottom-up in higher ed. I haven’t seen it in many other verticals like healthcare though.

  • oh ok. In fact considering healthcare and other verticals plus SMEs and MSMEs(micro, small, medium enterprises) market opportunity is so big to make even Google small to have a reach-out program. That answers the post title may be. Thanks for the post and conversation too.

  • I think there may be an opportunity to use google API’s with Google for Work in the health care arena to solve some of this issues by integrating key parts of the process into the EMR and other tools used by the staff.

    GDrive is the obvious low hanging fruit to add document management/work flow.

    But Hangouts base code is already being used (WebRTC) to implement telemedicine solutions as well.

    Add document templating, google forms, e-signing for patients and even google calendar for appointment tracking are other areas

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