On Wednesday, Google announced a Health Advisory Council to “help [Google] better understand the problems consumers and providers face every day and offer feedback on product ideas and development.”
Unfortunately for Google, their little council of just 21 members leaves out so many components, professions and wide swaths of understanding “health,” it’s almost being seen as either a joke or a naive first step into this field.
The blogosphere is justifiably upset. No medical librarians. No nurses. No medical bloggers (not that I would expect them to be there). Apparently just one patient advocate. And while 13 MDs are represented, only one Ph.D. is on the council.
And, needless to say, not a single psychologist or representative of mental health.
You would also think that, in this day and age, an entity as large as Google would know that the “mind” is inextricably connected to the body. While doctors or the head of AMA know all about physical diseases and how big hospitals run things, they don’t know nearly as much about mental health, the mind, or how people grapple with mental health in America today. Given that mental health accounts for approximately 30% of all searches on health conditions online these days, I’m saddened and disappointed by Google’s decision to continue the stigmatization and devaluing of mental health concerns by suggesting there’s no place for them in this advisory group.
But hey, at least they got all those doctor group leaders on the council and that one patient advocate. Oh, and someone from Wal-Mart. Because, apparently, Wal-Mart knows as much about health provision as they do about selling low-cost diapers.
Sorry, but I think Google dropped the ball on this one. The council should’ve been twice as large and ensured it was made up of nearly as many patient advocacy groups (who, believe it or not, actually know quite a bit about health from the individual’s point of view) as professional groups representatives. And of course, there should be representation in there of mental health, doing it the justice it deserves.
Read the announcement: New advisory group on health