Google has recently hired David Feinberg, the former chief executive officer of the health service organization Geisinger, and in his new job at the search giant, he will coordinate the different healthcare-related efforts of various groups within the search giant. Feinberg will organize the healthcare projects of the company's Search and cloud computing divisions, the artificial intelligence team under Google Brain, the Nest home automation business, and the Google Fit wearable team. Feinberg will report directly to Google's artificial intelligence head Jeff Dean, who was reportedly involved in the selection process for the role, although articles suggest that Feinberg will also work closely with Google's CEO Sundar Pichai.
Background: Google, along with its parent company Alphabet, has been working on multiple healthcare projects, which could help the search giant gain a foothold in the $3 trillion healthcare sector. Within the last few years, the tech firm has acquired several companies and developed technologies that complement its healthcare strategy. Among Google's first forays into the health business is a research project in Google's moonshot factory X. This moonshot project later expanded from a research team that developed smart contact lenses that can detect blood glucose levels and became the Google Life Sciences division which included researchers that created software that analyzes health data of patients. Google Life Sciences was later separated from the tech firm after it underwent a reorganization that saw the formation of Alphabet, and it was renamed to Verily. DeepMind, another company under Alphabet, developed artificial intelligence models for diagnosing diseases like cancer and eye disorders, and it has also worked with healthcare organizations to develop software that facilitates the delivery and analysis of patient data to consultants.
Even though the Life Science division of the search giant has already been spun off, several groups within Google are still working on their respective healthcare projects. The Nest home automation business, which has been incorporated into the Google Home team earlier this year, is developing solutions that help monitor seniors who are living independently. These solutions utilize information from motion and temperature sensors, and the data obtained from these sensors are used to either predict potential falls or inform the residents if they are at risk of dehydration. Meanwhile, the search giant's Google Assistant Investment Program recently invested on a tech firm that develops artificial intelligence-powered digital care assistant for hospitals and nursing homes, and teams within the company are developing applications for smartphones and wearables that help users track their health metrics. Google Brain, on the other hand, is working on an AI-powered touch and voice input technology designed for the needs of medical professionals.
Impact: The hiring of David Feinberg as a coordinator of healthcare projects within the search giant will likely result in a more cohesive commercial and research strategy, which Google will need if it wants to succeed in the healthcare industry. The healthcare industry is seen by the tech firm as one of the possible revenue streams that it can tap to reduce its reliance on its advertising business, which currently represents more than 86-percent of Alphabet's overall revenue for the third quarter of 2018.