What comes next for Google in health? 9 things to know about the tech giant's healthcare push amid reorganizing

While Google looks to reorganize its health division by moving its projects and teams across several areas of the company, the tech giant plans to continue its healthcare push and strengthen future projects. 

Google is dismantling its health division as its chief, David Feinberg, MD, is departing to join Kansas City, Mo.-based EHR company Cerner, where he will serve as president and CEO, effective Oct. 1. Teams under Dr. Feinberg's leadership will continue under a new structure, and the Google Health name will remain to include all of Google's work in health and wellness, including Fitbit and artificial intelligence research, a Google spokesperson told Becker's on Aug. 23. 

Google is pursuing the restructuring because it believes that housing its health projects closer to product areas will improve the execution and impact of its healthcare initiatives and better support earlier-stage research and projects. There are no job eliminations, role changes, project cuts or changes to project plans under the restructuring, Google's spokesperson said, adding that Google is continuing to hire for healthcare positions. 

Here are nine health projects Google is continuing to work on as well as future insights into its health initiatives: 

1. Care Studio. Google is continuing to pilot its EHR search tool with St. Louis-based Ascension and is working with Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to join the pilot. Google began collaborating with Ascension in 2018 on Google Care Studio, which helps clinicians organize and search for patient information. 

2. Google Cloud's healthcare products. The tech company will continue building its portfolio of products for Google Cloud, such as its Google Cloud Healthcare API and its healthcare data engine, launched last month. The company is continuing partnerships with healthcare organizations including Amwell; Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare; Highmark Health; and Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic. 

3. Mammography AI research. Google's health AI teams will continue work on their AI model, which can detect breast cancer in mammogram screenings. The company is conducting a prospective real-time screening study with Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine to assess whether its model can reduce waiting times for breast cancer diagnosis. 

4. Google Search and Maps health features. The tech company is still dedicating teams to focus on adding and updating healthcare tools to its search engine and maps application, including ensuring the quality of health information on Search and local Search care features that can help people find in-network care. 

5. YouTube health initiatives. In January, YouTube launched a healthcare team with partners including Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and the American Public Health Association to create credible health content across its platform. In July, YouTube rolled out two new features to combat and remove online health misinformation from its platform. 

6. Fitbit. Google is continuing its health wearables push, solidified by its $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit. The deal was first announced Nov. 19 and concluded Jan. 14.

7. Google hardware and sensors. Google will keep building its investments in consumer health devices, apps and wearables, including adding new features to Google Fit to assess heart and respiratory rate. 

8. COVID-19 resources. Google recently increased its efforts to assist with COVID-19 vaccination initiatives with the launch of its COVID-19 Vaccination Access Dataset, which calculates travel time to vaccination sites to identify areas where it may be difficult to reach a site. The tool also helps power the vaccine equity planner resource developed by Boston Children's Hospital and Ariadne Labs. 

9. Chest X-ray AI research. Google plans to further invest in research around using AI to help diagnose tuberculosis based on chest X-rays. The company's researchers have developed an AI-based tool that screens medical images to identify potential tuberculosis patients for follow-up testing. 

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