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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 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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 and LinkedIn.

Online Medical Visits Using Google Helpouts

As most of you probably know, I’ve been a big fan of the Google Plus hangout. In fact, I’ve been doing a series of video interviews with leading Healthcare IT thought leaders using the Google Plus hangout technology.

Google recently announced a twist on the Google Plus hangout technology that they’re calling Google Helpouts. These Helpouts are “real help from real people in real time” as it says on the website. Some of the help is Free and in other cases you have to pay a fee to get help. Why am I talking about this on a mobile health website?

The answer is simple. One Medical Group is one of the first partners to work with Google Helpouts. You’ll see on that page that if you’re a One Medical Group member in one of their cities, then you can get Free Medical Advice on the Google Helpout. Pretty cool, except for the fact that I’m not a member or in any of those cities, so I can’t try it out. They do offer Health and Wellness Coaching and Nutrition Counseling for $30 per helpout and $65 per helpout respectively.

My first question after seeing this was, “Are Google Helpouts HIPAA compliant?” The answer is probably that it depends. If I as a patient give permission to do it, then it’s fine. Although, if I’m One Medical Group, I wonder if they were able to get Google to sign a business associates agreement. Considering Google’s track record with Google Health, I’ll be really surprised if they did. Although, they should.

This should be of interest to all those people in the Telehealth world. Obviously, One Medical Group has a unique care model that makes this possible. However, once you start giving patients something like this, it’s hard to take it away. Plus, other patients start getting jealous of their friends and start wanting the service as well.

Hopefully these Google Helpout medical visits will help to crack this open and make the e-Visit a reality.

November 8, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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 and LinkedIn.

Google Gets Into Activity Tracking

Fierce Mobile Healthcare has a great article up talking about Google entering the activity tracking market with an Android app called Google Now. Turns out that Google Now is a lot more than just a fitness activity tracker. I think that Google looks at Google Now as the smart part of your phone that keeps track of what you’re doing and tries to provide real time information based upon all the data about you. It’s the next level Siri if you want to think about it that way. So, it makes sense that Google Now would also try and understand your health in the process.

While it’s interesting to see Google get back into the Health game after the failure of Google Health to get any traction, I think this is a really smart move. Plus, why isn’t the smartphone your activity tracking device? I know very few people who leave their house without their smartphone, but I know very few people who want to wear any other device all day every day.

Sure, your smartphone won’t track your activity level perfectly, but it can get pretty close. The battery won’t last as long as the other activity trackers along with other issues. However, when you look a the core technology in the fitness trackers and your smartphone, they are pretty close. I’ll reach out to some of my mHealth device friends to get their thoughts on the difference. Maybe there are a number of other issues I’m not thinking about.

We’ll see how this evolves, but the more we can make mHealth activity tracking a normal part of people’s routine, the more likely we’ll see results from it.

January 18, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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 and LinkedIn.

Google Health Appears to be Disappearing

 

I think anytime you hear about Google struggling with something it causes you to at least slow down and think about it.  This is a company that has revolutionized so many things in technology.  They are so strong that Microsoft continues to be foiled in trying to compete in Google’s neighborhood.

Some may see this as a bad sign for the mHealth industry, but I really just think it shows how important it is to find your market and stick with it.  Obviously the people at Google know their business well, but that doesn’t mean they are experts at everything.

mHealth has tremendous potential, but like any other industry there are more people that fail than succeed.  It is also interesting that Google has continued to pursue this industry despite almost falling apart more than once.

They have not been shy to shutdown other ventures that have proven unsuccessful but their persistence in this area should show the value that they think it possesses.  This is definitely an industry that is only going to get bigger, and with the right tools will create many success stories.

May 13, 2011 I Written By