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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.

Smart Contact Lens with Health Sensors

We’ve written about Google Glass before, but now Google has partnered with a Swiss company to bring their Google Eye technology to the market. Here’s a short description from this Venture Beat article:

Google and Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis announced this morning that they will be collaborating on bringing Google’s smart contact lens technology, which contains sensors for tracking things like blood glucose levels for diabetics, to consumers.

Specifically, Novartis says it’s interested in the tech’s glucose-sensing capabilities for diabetics, as well as its potential for helping people with presbyopia, who can’t read without glasses. The smart lens technology could eventually help to fix the eye’s autofocus capabilities for nearby objects, potentially by implanting it directly into the eye.

Let’s make sure that you don’t think this contact lens is going to replace Google Glass. We’re not there yet, but don’t be surprised if it gets there some day. These new smart contact lens are more like the variety of health sensors that are hitting the market than they are a Google Glass replacement. For purposes of this site, that’s just as cool.

I’ve often argued that we need to prepare ourselves for a wave of health sensors that are coming. This smart contact lens is another great example of this wave.

July 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.

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 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.

Google Returns to Healthcare

Many old timers will remember when Google Health was shut down and Google mostly got out of healthcare (although they certainly argue that many people turn to Doctor Google for health information). I wrote a lot about Google Health over the years. I was sad to see Google out of healthcare, but figured it was only a matter of time before they returned. However, I didn’t expect them to return the way they did.

Google just announced a new company called Calico that will focus on health and well-being. The announcement is light on details, but the various news outlets are saying that Google is trying to take on aging. No doubt Google has been known for crazy ideas, but trying to combat death might be their biggest challenge to date.

It’s also interesting that the new Google healthcare company will have Arthur Levinson as the CEO and a founding investor. Arthur Levinson is also Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple.

I love this quote from David Brailer from the LA Times: “Extending life is about as high as it gets on the human scale,” Brailer said. “It’s obviously a profoundly important goal.”

This investment and also other investment by rich tech entrepreneurs reminds me of this post I did from CES in 2012. In the post I talk about John Sculley and how it’s interesting how these older ex-CEOs are so interested in healthcare. I guess this is part of that trend.

September 19, 2013 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.

Google Glasses: The Future of Healthcare?

I’ll admit, I’m kind of a fan girl for all things Google (if you didn’t notice with my recent excitement about Google Fiber, or how I tend to favor Android apps.) So, of course, I think that Google Glasses sound really exciting. And when I first heard about them, I wondered if they had a place in healthcare.

It looks like others have thought that same thing.

To me, it would make sense for Google Glasses to be used in the healthcare world. It could be the next step for fitness devices. Doctors could potentially use it, as could medical students. The article from above listed the following ideas that seemed most plausible (these descriptions are directly from the article):

  •  Video sharing and storage: Physicians could record medical visits and store them for future reference or share the footage with other doctors.
  • A diagnostic reference: If Glass is integrated with an electronic medical record (EMR), it could provide a real-time feed of the patient’s vital signs.
  • A textbook alternative: Rather than referring to a medical textbook, physicians can perform a search on the fly with their Google Glass.
  • Emergency room/war zone care: As storied venture capitalist Marc Andreessen proposed in a recent interview, consider ”dealing with wounded patients and right there in their field of vision, if they’re trying to do any kind of procedure, they’ll have step-by-step instructions walking them through it.” In a trauma situation, doctors need to keep their hands free.
  • Helping medical students learn: As suggested by one blogger, a surgeon might live stream a live — and potentially rare — surgery to residents and students.
  • Preventing medical errors: With an electronic medical record integration, a nurse can scan the medication to confirm whether it’s  the correct drug dose and right patient.

It seems as if this is only the beginning. Of course, Google Glasses aren’t going to come cheap, but I feel it could really revolutionize healthcare.

What possibilities do you see between Google Glasses and Healthcare?

May 20, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

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 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.

WebMD.com Goes Mobile With Well-Developed App

One of my favorite health-related websites is WebMD.com, so of course I had to download the app when it became available. While I was disappointed that the WebMD Baby app isn’t available for Android, there is a WebMD app for both Apple and Android platforms. Here is the description provided on Google Play Store:

WebMD for Android helps you with your decision-making and health improvement efforts by providing mobile access 24/7 to mobile-optimized health information and decision-support tools including WebMD’s Symptom Check, Drugs & Treatments, First Aid Information and Local Health Listings. WebMD the App also gives you access to first aid information without having to be connected wirelessly — critical if you don’t have Internet access in the time of need.

For the most part, I really like the app. It is easy to navigate and has a lot of different features. You can sign up for an account with WebMD if you don’t have one, or link an already existing account. Either way, it doesn’t take too long to get into the app.

There are five main sections to the app, which were mentioned in the description above. They can be accessed from the front page of the app, which looks like this:

When selecting the “Symptom Checker” for the first time, I was asked my age, zip code, and gender. I’m not sure if it would ask this if any of the other sections were accessed first. I’m guessing this information is asked just so results can be more customized to your demographic.

I really like the symptoms checker. A digital figure of a body (male or female, depending on what you selected originally) where you select the part of your body that is currently of concern. From there, a list of potential diagnoses come up. Unfortunately, this portion for the app rarely works for me. It says it cannot connect without an Internet connection, even though my phone is connected through the Internet and my data plan. Because of this, I can’t really vouch for the usefulness of this, but if I ever can get it to work, I think it would be kind of neat. As such, I typically select the “list” view, where a list of body parts comes up. It’s nice to be able to scroll through and see different illness and read more about them, including the symptoms. However, as I mentioned in my post about the Internet and hypochondriacs, I have spent far too much time browsing the symptoms. That’s not the apps fault though!

Under the conditions tab, there are a few options. First, My Conditions. Here, you can login to a WebMD account and save conditions you are currently diagnosed with, drugs being used, and first aid information. Then there is the top searches tab, which shows just that — the top searched conditions. And finally, there is an A-Z list of all conditions that have available information on WebMD.

Drugs and treatments has the options as My Conditions does, but there is an additional section called Pill ID. I think this is a pretty neat little feature. You can figure out what type of pill something is (like, maybe you have to take several different pills and you’ve put them into a pill box, only to forget later on which pill is which) by selecting the shape, color, or imprint. There are a lot of different shapes and colors to choose from, and the option is available to type in any letters or numbers on a pill.

The First Aid section gives detailed information on how to treat various things, from asthma attacks to heart attacks to jellyfish stings. These are, of course, only supposed to be used as guidelines, and if there is a true emergency, it says to call 911 immediately. This is a great reference guide though, even if its an emergency, because I believe that its important to try and do something while waiting for medical assistance to arrive. I like this feature a lot.

Finally there is the local health listings. Here, you can search for a physician, pharmacy, or hospital near you. You must have a name or speciality in mind when selecting either of these, but from there, it will bring up a list of names, hospitals, or pharmacies nearby with all the necessary information (phone number, address, map, etc.). Having traveled a good amount in the past few months, and in some cases needed to find a pharmacy in an unfamiliar area, this would have been really helpful to have!

Overall, its a great app. I’d even go as far as saying its a necessary one for everyone to have on their phone. I think it is unfortunate that, beyond the first aid section, an Internet connection is required, but beyond that, I don’t have any complaints!

Download here for Apple devices

Download here for Android

June 27, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Google to Launch Android Video Chat

One of the biggest features that Android phones just could not compete with iPhones was the ability to video chat through the phone itself.  It appears that Google is making their move into the realm of video chat.

This is a move that could help slow down the trend of doctors moving to iPhones though it will likely take further development of even more apps.  The ability to video chat on the iPhone has allowed doctors to talk directly to their patients and even provide consultations in some cases.  One group in the UK has been using video chat for just that purpose.

Their is one major advantage the new Android video chat would have, and that is the ability to chat with someone that is on a computer, not just other Android users.  This would greatly broaden the scope of use for this product.  Google has a knack for working their way into any market, and this appears to be one more area that they are really going to make their mark.

A few articles about the topic can be found here.

 

May 1, 2011 I Written By