The whole truth?

Health IT vendor Practice Fusion grabbed headlines a couple of weeks ago with the news, first reported March 16 in the San Francisco Chronicle, that it would offer a free EMR to physician practices, thanks to a “deal” with Google.

Publications nationwide jumped on this story, which some interpreted as Google’s long-anticipated entry into the world of healthcare. As of this morning, Practice Fusion’s own Web site lists no less than 17 instances of media coverage the company has received since then, including my story in Digital HealthCare & Productivity last week.

Thanks to the publication schedule, my story didn’t appear until March 20, which gave me time to put in a call to Google and get spokesman Brandon McCormick to say, “This shouldn’t be interpreted as a product move on Google’s part.”

Further, an e-mailed official statement from Google read as following: “Practice Fusion has recently joined Google’s AdSense program to place ads on their Web pages. AdSense helps hundreds of thousands of publishers effectively monetize online content in just about every vertical category that exists on the Web. 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.”


That makes it sound like Practice Fusion’s invocation of the G word was little more than a publicity stunt. I guess it worked, since so many publications—the Wall Street Journal included—took the bait.

The news also lit up the blogosphere.

Fred Trotter’s post called the news “snake oil” and “bunk”—and that was just in his headline.

A new blog called e-CareManagement took issue with the business model and raised the obvious privacy concerns about an ad-supported EMR. That blog’s writer, Vince Kuraitis, e-mailed me twice last week.

The first message questoned both Practice Fusion’s ethics and the wisdom of publicizing the supposed business connection to Google. The second message, sent exactly nine minutes later, said the following:

…one more thing that doesn’t fit…

Google AdSense revenue is peanuts, see, e.g.,

certainly not enough to sustain an EHR.

On the other hand, you would think that PF would have negotiated a special
click thru rate with AdSense knowing that doctor eyeballs poised on an EHR
at the point of care would be worth a lot more that an average eyeball.

….which would suggest that indeed there is a special deal with Google

…but which Google now denies ????

This thing stinks.

I don’t know if anything stinks or not, but I can vouch for the ad revenue being peanuts. Google doesn’t cut a check unless you have at least $100 in your account. I’ve had AdSense ads on this site since July 2005, and I haven’t seen a dime yet. But I never expected to make a profit from blogging.

On the other hand, Practice Fusion finally updated its blog on Tuesday, the first post since March 6. Perhaps the phones were ringing off the hook there for the past three weeks?

Stay tuned to this story and to my blog. I have at least two more posts in me, and hopefully I’ll have them up in the next day or two.