• February 22nd, 2020

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More than 500 people now work at Google Health, the newly reorganized branch of Google, applying its AI capabilities from medical devices to lifestyle management solutions. Google is not alone: Apple, Microsoft, Amazon are as well leveraging on their strengths to advance in the healthcare industry.

How are tech giants entering healthcare?

Tech giants like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are advancing in the space of healthcare over the past decades, empowering their offerings from medical records and research data to wearables and applications. Each player is leveraging on their strengths to develop its value proposition within the health world: Apple's patient-centric approach focuses on consumers, Google's AI capabilities are applied from medical devices to lifestyle management solutions, Microsoft's cloud platform Azure is leveraged to manage health data.

Amazon, as reported by CB Insights, is instead focusing on its e-commerce expertise. The chosen business model enables, in fact, companies to outsource to Amazon their non-core activities, impacting on payers (Amazon can manage the marketplace and the claims), on providers (Amazon can manage documentation into the EMR or coordinating supplies) and on pharmaceutical companies (Amazon can manage actual experiments, packaging, tracking and logistics).

Why did Google Health reach 500 employees?

A key success factor for tech giants in their run towards the health industry is to acquire the right capabilities to flourish in such a field. For example, Google healthcare projects, once scattered across the company, are now consolidating under one team of more than 500 people, as reported by CNBC, located in Palo Alto and working under the lead of David Feinberg. 

Google Health, which represents the first major new product area at Google since hardware, is a branch of Google that was originally founded in 2006 with the initial main objective to create a database of health records to directly connect doctors, hospitals and pharmacies while helping consumers aggregate their medical data. Such a project was started in 2008 and then discontinued in 2012, leaving space for years of Artificial Intelligence development for the analysis of imaging scans as well as patient documents or the identification of disease, all aimed to enable prediction and realise costs efficiency.

Which is the new mission of Google Health?

By the end of 2018 the reorganisation began, David Feinberg was appointed and Google Health mission evolved as stated on their official website: "When you need information about medical conditions, directions to the nearest hospital, reminders to take medicine, or help with measuring your fitness progress, you might ask Google for help. We do our best to provide the most accurate and helpful information across services like Google Search, Maps, Assistant, Fit and WearOS Smartwatches. Beyond that, emerging technologies present opportunities to elevate healthcare for everyone. Today we're studying the use of artificial intelligence to assist in diagnosing cancer, predicting patient outcomes, preventing blindness, and much more. We're exploring ways to improve patient care, including tools that are already being used by clinicians. And we're partnering with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to help improve the care patients receive."

The new Google Health unit is now exploring ideas such as helping doctors search medical records and improving health-related Google search results for consumers. However, the primary focus is to consolidate existing teams, bringing together groups of people across Google and Alphabet to take on big healthcare challenges.

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