Mountain View, CA — After taking some major leaps into healthcare, Google has begun solidifying its foothold in the space by appointing Dr. David Feinberg, CEO of Geisinger, to head up the tech giant’s motley array of digital health endeavors. Geisinger’s pioneering payer-hospital combination is widely regarded as an exemplary model of healthcare business integration. The Pennsylvania- and New Jersey-based hospital system is also a trailblazer in the use of electronic health records (EHRs). 

Google Health, an EHR database, shut down in 2011 after failing to catch on with HCPs. But Feinberg will oversee numerous other projects, which have met with varying degrees of success so far. For instance, Verily, Google’s life-sciences arm, is working to develop at-home health-monitoring technologies, such as contact lenses that are able to measure and report blood-sugar levels. And Calico, another Google medical team, is focused on extending the average human life span. Feinberg will help build and execute developmental strategy for these and other efforts.

According to Rita Numerof, healthcare consultant at Numerof and Associates, “David is of a mindset that we need a different model…Google provides him the opportunity to bring technology to clinicians and consumers and to achieve outcomes that are challenging in today’s environment.” 

Google has attracted a number of big healthcare personalities in just the past couple of years, including former Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove, now an adviser to Google Cloud’s healthcare and life sciences team, along with Dr. Michael Howell of the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine’s Center for Healthcare Delivery Science and Innovation, now Google Research’s chief clinical strategist. 

Feinberg withdrew himself from consideration for the position of CEO of Amazon, J.P. Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway’s healthcare conglomerate, but a central part of his work at Google will be to advance interoperability with those players as well as other tech giants, like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce. This is particularly critical with regard to implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-based technologies. 

Why This Matters

What was once a smattering of discrete efforts, the advances of the biggest tech companies into the healthcare arena foretell outsized presence—and brand-new services—in the lives of all consumers. 

About the Author:

Ben helps spark innovative healthcare thinking as Associate Director of Innovation. Previously on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair, he brings experience in engaging, rigorous storytelling to the healthcare world. Ben’s goals are to move brands to rethink their roles, own their evolving narratives, and maintain vital and vigorous consumer relationships.