Google’s Masterplan in Healthcare – The Medical Futurist

When Google restructured into the holding
company known as Alphabet, one of the perks was that Larry Page and the former heads of
Google can finally turn all their attention from the search engine to incubating new and
innovative efforts. Alphabet bets on healthcare and medicine as
the next big thing. The signs are everywhere. No other company in the Silicon Valley is
investing so heavily in related companies as them. In only the past five years, they filed almost
200 healthcare-related patents. So let’s take a deeper look at their efforts. Google Ventures, Alphabets’ venture capital
arm , is taking an equity stake in companies trying to limit aging and improve how we treat
diseases by researching areas like genomics, cell therapy or biotechnology. One of the most famous companies in their
portfolio is 23andme , a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company with one of the biggest
DNA databases in the world. But in their diverse portfolio we can also
find Oscar Health , the New York-based venture disrupting health insurance; Doctor on Demand
, a telehealth company, helping people talking to physicians from afar; and Impossible Foods
that’s developing plant-based meats and cheese. In 2014 Google fought off Facebook to acquire
DeepMind — a London-based AI lab working on solving artificial
general intelligence. The company made headlines after its AlphaGo
program beat the Go world champion in a five-game match. A more generic version of the program, the
AlphaZero , thought itself to play go, chess and shogi on a professional level, after a
few hours of playing against itself, using reinforcement learning. In terms of healthcare, Alphabet’s strategy
is to use DeepMind’s AI to mine medical records to provide better and faster health
services. These words are not just empty phrases; DeepMind
can process hundreds of thousands of medical information within minutes. After the Alphabet restructuring, Google Life
Sciences became an independent subsidiary named Verily . It’s a research organization
devoted to the study of life sciences with amazing projects on their slate. They are developing disease detecting nanoparticles,
health tracking contact lenses and wristbands, and surgical robots in partnership with Johnson
and Johnson. Their so-called Project Baseline is a giant
effort to collect genetic, molecular, and wearable device information from enough people
to create a baseline of what a healthy human should be. In line with Silicon Valley’s quest for
longevity, in 2013, the co-founder of Google, Larry Page, announced that his company would
form a company named Calico to figure out the secret to lengthen life and conquer death. It’s probably Alphabet’s biggest moonshot. They run a very secretive business, but they
have a partnership with the pharma-giant Abbvie to accelerate the discovery, development,
and commercialization of new therapies. From Alphabet and Abbvie, Calico has a 1.5-billion-dollar
budget and has around 100 employees. As of this day Calico hasn’t announced any
drugs or biotech products, but once they do, it could be a real gamechanger. In conclusion; no matter whether it’s about
genomics, artificial intelligence, longevity or health management, Google is there, trying
to push the boundaries, trying to come up with revolutionary breakthroughs. And in spite of the complex health regulations
and slow cultural transformation that is going on in the field, it is sure that Google & Co.
will become a significant player in the future of healthcare.

12 thoughts on “Google’s Masterplan in Healthcare – The Medical Futurist

  1. Nice. My team is currently working on finding evidence for Google's next medical AI for quality improvement.

  2. Even Ray Charles would see the clear and present danger in turning over your complete genetic profile & DNA data to Google? Surely they wouldnt exploit our vulnerabilities like a company reading our minds and simultaneously selling us products based on our thoughts…
    Very concerning for a company that values technology over humanity to have so many irons in the healthcare fire. Especially so when it comes to data mining through companies like 23 & me.

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