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Google’s Efforts in Healthcare

I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at what Google is currently doing in healthcare. While Google Health was shut down a long time ago, Google still has an amazing interesting in health and healthcare. Actually, I’m not sure how much Google cares about healthcare, but the Google Founders do seem to care. I call it the Tech Geeks Got Old Effect (ie. They get old and have money they need to spend. So, they spend the money to try and prolong their life.)

By far, the biggest project that Google has announced in healthcare is Calico. They even have a website for the project. However, the website really doesn’t say much. Luckily, the wikipedia page offers a bit more info:

Calico is an independent R&D biotech company established in 2013 by Google Inc. whose goal is to tackle the process of aging. More specifically, Calico’s plan is to use advanced technology to increase understanding of the biology that controls lifespan, and to use that knowledge to increase longevity. The company is led by founder & CEO Arthur D. Levinson, who is the current chairman of Apple Inc. as well as the former chairman of Genentech and was on the board of directors of Hoffmann-La Roche. The name Calico is shorthand for California Life Company. Arthur Levinson had posted he and four others were principal in Calico on Google+. Those four people mentioned were: Robert Cohen, Hal V. Barron, David Botstein and Cynthia Kenyon. Three of the four named are or were previously affiliated with Genentech.

In Google’s 2013 Founders’ Letter, Larry Page described Calico as a company focused on “health, wellbeing and longevity.”

The thing I like most about Calico is that it seems like they understand the need to mix scientists, programmers, medically trained personnel, and more in order to solve many of the really challenging problems we face in healthcare. We’d love to think that one programmer in a garage at a computer could solve things, but my guess is that the next big change in healthcare will come from a scientist, programmer, data scientist and medical professional in a garage. I guess Calico doesn’t have the garage, but I like the cross disciplinary approach to the problems.

I’m hopeful they’re successful in their mission since I’m getting old as well. I think their goals are quite ambitious and so I think they’ll likely fail in the stated goals, but still do some amazing good along the way. That’s fine. I have a feeling that’s why Calico’s goals are so ambitious.

The other major project that Google’s doing in the healthcare space is Google Fit. I was and am still skeptical of Apple Health and it’s possible impact on healthcare. I’d say the same things about Google Fit. I’m not suggesting that either will be a massive flop. I think they’ll gain some traction and provide some benefit to a few people. However, I don’t see Google Fit as the transformative platform that Google and Apple want their solutions to be. Healthcare is much more complex than they realize and I don’t think either company wants to dive deep enough into healthcare to really make a massive change in how we view healthcare.

The #1 Google product for healthcare is actually something we probably take for granted. That’s the Google search results themselves. I know my wife has turned to Dr. Google plenty of times when her, my children or myself come down with something. Is this right or wrong? It doesn’t really matter. It’s just the reality. The quality of Google’s health search results could have as big of an impact on healthcare as almost any other healthcare company. That’s a really big deal and something that Google probably doesn’t even realize.

November 20, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

Healthcare Unbound Conference in San Diego

The Healthcare Unbound Conference in sunny San Diego, CA is just around the corner on December 3-4, 2014. Here’s a little bit more about the conference:

This conference builds on the strength of our ten previous Healthcare Unbound events. The Healthcare Unbound Conference offers timely and practical information as well as visionary perspectives. Over the years the conference has attracted hundreds of high-level executives and clinicians from across the US and abroad.

Plus, here are some of the topics they’ll be covering at the conference:

  • The evolving role of Patient Digital Health Platforms and wearable technologies and the implications for healthcare stakeholders and technology companies.
  • Examples of how technologies to promote patient engagement have been used effectively in post-discharge monitoring, chronic disease management and mental health to improve outcomes and reduce costs.
  • Opportunities and challenges in creating linkages between electronic health records and consumer-facing technologies such as remote monitoring, social media, wearables and mHealth applications.
  • How to aggregate and analyze patient generated health data so that it’s most useful to patients, providers and payers. How to convert data into knowledge and make it available at the point of care.
  • Strategies and methodologies for showing the clinical effectiveness and cost savings associated with digital health products.
  • Key considerations in designing products to engage health consumers.
  • Privacy and security considerations.
  • Reimbursement and regulatory considerations.
  • Emerging business models and strategies for collaboration for technology companies. Financier perspectives.

If you’re working in the mobile health or mHealth space, you’ll want to take a look at what they’re doing. In their 11th year, the Healthcare Unbound conference has a great perspective on what’s happening. Register now for early bird pricing to the event.

November 13, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

Future of Glasses and Wearable Technology

This documentary on Glasses, wearable technology, and robots is really interesting. You’ll need an hour to see the whole thing, but I think you’ll enjoy it. What does all of this mean for healthcare? I’ll leave that as an open ended question.

November 5, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

Sometimes the Best Fitness Solutions are Low Tech Tech Hacks

Simple Low Tech Fitness Solution

I got this image from Sarah Bennight (@sarahbennight). I love her simple motivation methodology using her phone’s built in alarm system. Sometimes we try and make mobile health too complicated. Simple, but effective will probably work out better.

October 30, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

Online Diagnosis and Treatment App – Zipnosis

I was recently introduced to an online diagnosis and treatment app called Zipnosis. The video embedded below does a pretty good job describing how the app works and what they’re trying to do with the company.

In some ways, this technology reminds me of Vinod Khosla’s famous quote that “technology will replace 80 percent of doctors.” In the case of Zipnosis, it seems that the technology isn’t quite replacing the doctor, but it’s one step closer to being able to do so. They told me that’s not their vision, but you can see how this could be the start of a very interesting algorithm that could treat patients.

I’m sure many people reading this are wondering how a doctor can treat someone who they’ve never talked to, met, touched, etc. In fact, it seems that with Zipnosis the doctors is treating and prescribing for a patient who has just filled out what amounts to an online form (in the form of an online app). Lest you get too concerned, here’s the list of conditions they treat:
Zipnosis Online Diagnosis Treatment Options

I’ll be interested to see how this list expands and contracts. No doubt, there are a lot of situations where an online form is probably more than enough to treat the patient. Add in pictures and you have a bunch more things you can treat. Add in other external devices and you can treat even more. I’ll be interested to watch Zipnosis and see how they expand and how the market responds to what they’re offering.

October 22, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

Creating mHealth Apps That Do Something for You

There was a great LinkedIn discussion happening around the Fitness Tracker Fallout post that I did previously. One of the comments by Dean Tucker, Founder & CEO at MyNightCare, LLC, provided some really interesting insights into the mHealth app market:

The focus of the current crop of devices and apps requires one to “do” something, engage in a social competition, analyze our own data, and follow advice from someone or something we don’t know or trust.

The secret to successful apps and their utilization will be revealed when the apps and tracking devices the apps rely upon provide the answer to the question, “what does this do for me”, rather than telling me, “here is what you need to do.” What I want is the ability is to have a life monitoring ecosystem, with the sensors and devices we already have in our lives, complemented by new passive sensors, and the active tracking devices we choose to use, when we want or need them. That is where Apple, Google, Samsung, and all of other aggregators, will play the lead role. The supporting specialty apps will be there for when I want to drill down, or focus on a particular activity or health related issue.

What a powerful concept to consider. Most apps could really benefit from thinking about what the mHealth app can do for the user as opposed to what the user needs to do for the app. That’s not to say that the user shouldn’t have any involvement in doing something with the app. However, it takes a very specific situation and motivation for a user to be willing to do the work before receiving the reward.

Dean is right that we’ll see an amazing shift in fitness tracking once the devices collect the data automatically with no intervention from the user. We’re heading that direction and those that master that kind of health tracking are going to be the big winners.

October 16, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

3D Printed Heart Saves Child’s Life

No, they didn’t print a 3D printed heart that they could put inside a patient (maybe that will come one day), but this is still a great story. They 3D printed a model of a heart to help the surgeons prepare for heart surgery. Here’s an excerpt from The Independent article:

Surgeons at a New York hospital have credited 3D printing with helping to save the life of a 2-week-old baby who required complicated heart surgery.

Using MRI scan data, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York City 3D printed a copy of the child’s heart, which was both riddled with holes and structured unusually.

Surgery was going to be complicated and dangerous, but this 3D printed heart provided the surgeons the opportunity to study the organ, and develop a detailed surgery strategy.

“The baby’s heart had holes, which are not uncommon with CHD, but the heart chambers were also in an unusual formation, rather like a maze,” Dr Emile Bacha, who performed the surgery, told Connecticut local media.

Really cool stuff. The article also noted that normally this type of surgery would have required multiple operations to complete. With the 3D printed heart, they were able to repair the baby’s heart with one operation.

I’d never thought about using 3D printed objects for teaching, learning and preparing for surgeries. It makes a lot of sense and is a really great innovation. I love when technology comes together and benefits us in ways we likely wouldn’t have expected.

October 8, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

Cerner Wellness Integrates with Apple’s HealthKit

When Apple announced HealthKit, they announced a few healthcare partners including Epic. Many thought this was an interesting announcement, but I was (and still am) skeptical that anything really meaningful will come. As one person put it, we’re suppose to be excited that two of the most closed companies in the world are working together?

I recently saw the news come out that Epic’s main competitor, Cerner, announced that they’d integrated with Apple’s HealthKit. In fact, I believe their integration seems to have come out before Epic’s integration (unless I missed it, or maybe Epic just likes to keep quiet). Here’s a short excerpt from the Cerner announcement:

To me, HealthKit is about making it more convenient to manage your health and wellness, and share that information with the people that are helping you reach your goals. It’s less about trying to get real-time clinical insights or make new diagnoses. HealthyNow has the features that consumers and wellness experts are looking for in these apps, and by integrating with HealthKit, we’ve opened up the experience to a whole array of health apps for our members to choose from. This integration enables the feeding of key health metrics into our platform for sharing with health coaches, earning of incentive points, and identification of new opportunities to improve your health. By promoting healthier habits, consumers lower their premiums, health plans reduce their spend on treating avoidable diseases, and everyone lives a healthier life. (emphasis added)

The details on what Apple’s HealthKit would really do have been pretty foggy. Although, this paragraph illustrates where I figured HealthKit was going. Notice the part of the quote where I added emphasis. Cerner is just looking to suck data from HealthKit into Cerner. Maybe they have future plans to make Cerner data available to HealthKit, but the announcement seems to say they haven’t done so yet. This one way interface is exactly why I’m skeptical that HealthKit will really have a huge impact on healthcare.

What do you think? Have any of you integrated with HealthKit? I’d love to see if you have other views of where HealthKit might be headed.

October 1, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

Difference Between Google Fit and Apple Healthkit

There’s an article on iMedicalApps which looks at both Google Fit and Apple Healthkit’s offerings. The cliff notes version is that they both store the information in a very similar way (standard format based on type of data). The big difference is that Apple Healthkit also has an Apple Health app that provides a user display of the health data that’s being stored. Google has opted not to provide such an app, but to allow the app ecosystem to take care of it instead.

This shouldn’t really be a surprise. Apple has always been about providing the fully integrated experience. Google has always been about opening up their data and empowering a community of developers to innovate on top of that ecosystem. Look at Android vs iPhones to see what I mean.

These differences aside, I was intrigued by the idea that Apple Healthkit and/or Google Fit would basically create a standard for health data. You can imagine they’re starting with simpler data elements like heart rate, blood pressure, and other fitness measures like steps. I haven’t seen a full list of the various health data they’re standardizing, but it would be interesting to see.

I’m particularly interested to see how they handle a standard for more complex health data. Even something that many might consider simple, like blood pressure, has its own complexities. It’s more than just two numbers. How was the blood pressure taken? Was it sitting, laying down, or standing? Was it the wrist, arm, etc? Depending on what you’re doing this might not matter, but in other cases it does. Does their standard take these things into account?

The challenge for Google, Apple, and any other company that’s working in this space is making sure that the data they collect and share can be trusted. If there’s no trust in the data, then it doesn’t matter how much or what data you collect. A half baked standard leads a lot of healthcare professionals to not trust the data.

I’m hopeful that Google and Apple have put some serious, thoughtful effort into their health data standards. If someone knows where I can find those standards, I’d love to see them.

September 25, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

Goggles Help Surgeons See Tumors

I found this great article on the BBC news site which talks about a new Goggle technology that helps surgeons “see” cancer cells in their patients. The article is a bit old (April), but it’s a fascinating look at the amazing power of technology to transform healthcare.

Here’s a short excerpt of how the technology works:

In the study, patients are being injected with a dye before their surgery. The dye has a peptide – a small protein – attached to it that allows it to seek out and bind specifically to cancer cells.

The dyed cancer cells emit light at a wavelength that cannot be seen by the human eye, but can be detected by a sensor in the goggles worn by the surgeons.

“The sensor captures the fluorescence from the dye lodged in cancer tissue and projects the image into the surgeon’s [field of] view,” explained Dr Achilefu.

“This creates an augmented reality that allows the surgeons to see cancer cells glowing, providing real-time guidance during surgery.

The article does note that we still need a much larger set of patient trials for this technology to go mainstream, but it’s easy to see the potential.

I love these types of genius approaches to the use of technology in healthcare. The mix of technology with science is such a powerful combination. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of organizations that are doing a great job bridging both sides of the healthcare community. Are there other examples where you’ve seen the mix of science and technology in healthcare?

September 17, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.