Despite its machine learning prowess and massive consumer reach, Google has yet to launch major health products. However, the interest is there, with the company today appointing the former CEO of a health care system to lead and organize various teams.
According to CNBC, Geisinger Health CEO David Feinberg has been appointed by Google to coordinate future health efforts. He previously led a health service organization with 1.5 million patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Not factoring in Alphabet, which has Verily and Calico, multiple groups within Google are interested in health. Google Fit is the only consumer service today, having recently been revamped and closely integrated with Wear OS. Speaking of hardware, the now Google Home-integrated Nest division is rumored to be designing health devices for the home. This group reportedly wants to use technology to allow senior citizens to live independently.
Meanwhile, Search has long provided results about various conditions in the form of Knowledge Panels and has massive insight into trends, like during flu season. Google Cloud is another interested party, and offers secure cloud services and APIs to health care providers; recently partnering with Fitbit.
Google Brain and AI chief Jeff Dean is also interested in the space, with the division showing off work on a cancer-detecting AR microscope and other machine learning-backed efforts, like analyzing the relationship between retinas and heart disease. Dean has been “deeply involved in the process,” according to CNBC, with Feinberg directly reporting to the head of Google AI, while also working with CEO Sundar Pichai.
This development comes as Alphabet just closed a two-day summit where various teams from the companies presented research and sent representatives. Health care is a $3 trillion market with machine learning and technology allowing for mass data analysis and improvements to care.
Alphabet has Verily which is researching watch-like devices that can non-invasively collect blood and partnering with the National Institute of Health to manage data from a decade-long precision health study. One of the more promising Alphabet bets, the company reportedly also wants to enter the health insurance market to keep costs down.
Meanwhile, Calico is researching aging, or more grandiosely ‘solving death.’
It’s not clear how Feinberg and Google’s future health efforts will deal with those two companies, but today’s hire is reportedly just to organize initiatives within Google.
Update: Google AI head Jeff Dean confirmed the hire of Dr. David Feinberg to “organize” the company’s “health efforts.” He speaks of the potential for AI to improve health care and notes Google’s early work in the field. The Twitter thread this morning reveals that the Google initiatives will at least collaborate with Verily and other related Alphabet companies.
Now we're thrilled to welcome Dr. David Feinberg (@dtfeinberg) to help us organize our health efforts at Google and enhance our collaborations with Verily and across Alphabet. I’m looking forward to his help in using AI to improve healthcare globally!
— Jeff Dean (@JeffDean) November 9, 2018