GOOGLE hired David Feinberg from Geisinger Health, a system of hospitals based in Pennsylvania, toward the end of 2018 and put him in charge of a newly created division called Google Health. But the company has remained quiet about the division’s scope and goals.
Now he’s beginning to talk publicly about his plans, and appeared on stage at HLTH, a health care conference in Las Vegas recently.
Feinberg, a doctor who describes himself as “no tech guy,” is focusing his efforts on Google’s core expertise in search, looking to make it easier for doctors to search medical records, and to improve the quality of health-related search results for consumers across Google and YouTube, according to his statements at HTLH and conversations with people familiar with his plans.
Google has dabbled in healthcare for years, lured by the size of the opportunity. Healthcare represents a $3.5 trillion market, which still relies on a lot of manual processes.
But the company has struggled with some of its early endeavours, such as its contact lens that aimed to measure blood glucose in tears and its Google Health medical record service, so the hire of Feinberg out of the traditional health sector is a recognition that the search giant will need to partner with the medical sector to have an impact.
Better search in medical records, YouTube, and Google Search
While on stage at HLTH, Feinberg described some of the ideas he’s been kicking around to bring Google’s technology into health care.
“Imagine a search bar on top of your EHR (electronic health record) that needs no training,” he proposed to the doctors and nurses in the room.
That would be a big deal for clinicians. Feinberg noted that his fellow doctors had become “data clerks,” given all the time they spent charting, assigning billing codes and filling out fields in medical records. He didn’t go as far as to say that Google would compete with some of the existing electronic health record companies, like Epic and Cerner, but he did suggest that Google could help with some of the grunt work. — The Health