big tech’s foray into healthcare is causing positive disruption to the way things have been done. Google is making significant progress in areas like health data infrastructure and management, artificial intelligence (AI) and disease management through innovative medical equipment, diagnostics and treatments for doctors and patients. In this detailed report by CB Insights it is clear that Google appears to be in the best position to shape the future of healthcare.s we have noted and written about before,
Google is betting that the future of healthcare is going to be structured data and AI. The company is applying AI to disease detection, new data infrastructure, and potentially insurance. In this report we explore Google’s many healthcare initiatives and areas of potential future expansion.
Google has always seen itself as more than a search and advertising company.
Now it’s turning its focus to healthcare, betting that its AI prowess can create a powerful new paradigm for the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease.
“So tomorrow, if AI can shape healthcare, it has to work through the regulations of healthcare … In fact, I see that as one of the biggest areas is where the benefits will play out for the next 10 – 20 years.” — Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google
In short, Google seems to be going after the healthcare space from every possible angle.
In this analysis, we dive deep into how Google is pushing healthcare forward with a focus on data and AI, including:
- The specific disease areas where Google is studying diagnostics and management — including diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and heart disease, among others
- How Google is rebuilding the healthcare data infrastructure layer to potentially become the new data pipes for health giants
- Possible areas of expansion, including hardware for providers, insurance and more
- How Google could make eventually money off its many disparate healthcare bets
- Obstacles between where the company is today and where it’s trying to go
Note: For simplicity we use “Google” as shorthand for the larger Alphabet company, under which many of these healthcare initiatives fall. We explain the Alphabet structure below.
As Google enters healthcare, it’s leaning heavily on its expertise in AI. Health data is getting digitized and structured, from a new electronic record standard to imaging to DNA sequencing. Google is both helping speed up this process by creating new means of ingesting health data and betting that it can use AI to make sense of the data quickly and potentially more accurately than current methods.
Among the big 5 tech giants (Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon), Google emphasizes its progress on machine learning much more than the rest.
As software, and more specifically artificial intelligence, becomes a differentiating factor in the healthcare space, Google is well-positioned.
The company is doubling down on the number of research papers it publishes, opening more AI research centers around the world, and developing its own chips and hardware dedicated to running AI/ML processes. In addition, Google is the most active investor/ acquirer of AI companies among big tech companies, scooping up talent and building relationships with up-and-coming AI applications.
In 2015 Google restructured into Alphabet, and AI become the centerpiece of nearly each division’s strategy. In that restructuring, healthcare projects, which previously had fallen within the R&D labs of Google X (Google’s secretive special projects lab), instead moved to new subsidiaries at the company.
To an extent, this restructuring siloed Google’s health initiatives a bit more — but also pushed them beyond the “moonshot” arena into specific subsidiaries with a tighter set of mandates.
The three subsidiaries focused in healthcare are Verily, DeepMind, and Calico.
Verily — Verily is where Alphabet is doing the bulk of its healthcare work. The subsidiary is focused on using data to improve healthcare via analytics tools, interventions, research, and more…
Google spinout Calico is trying to understand the mechanisms that cause us to age. The company is looking at how different lifestyle changes, cellular processes, genetics, etc. impact the course of aging. Through this process, Calico seeks to better understand disease detection and lifestyle management, and depending on what the division learns, it will probably also be involved in the data generation layer as well.
The company recently released research about the aging pattern of naked mole-rats and has announced partnerships to create aging-related drugs.
Read the whole report at cbinsights.com
Summary of Important Points in the Report
Google (Alphabet) subsidiaries involved in healthcare:
Disease Detection, Diagnosis & Management
- Eye Diseases
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Different cancer types
- Mental & behavioral health
- Tools for Doctors and Patients
Google’s structure & AI advantage
- Google prioritizes AI and data generation
- Using AI to tackle disease, from monitoring, to detection, to lifestyle management
- Powering the healthcare data infrastructure layer
- Creating structured data networks in the cloud that allow full interoperability of multiple data systems for the healthcare giants
- Third party data management e.g. insurance companies, pharmaceuticals
Population Health Interventions
Google is exploring ways that it can use AI to improve the health of large segments of the population at once.
One project aims to engineer and release sterile mosquitoes into the population in order to eliminate disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Google subsidiaries have announced various partnerships
One partnership will focus on creating aging-related drugs.
Verily partnered with pharma giant Johnson & Johnson to createVerb Surgical, a robotic surgery company that uses machine learning, robotic surgery, instrumentation, advanced visualization and data analytics to effect more positive outcomes.
Google believes that its use of AI allows it to better manage health data and outcomes. It could become an insurance company and manage the risk of patients.
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