Pandemic spurred Google's healthcare reorganization, health chief Dr. Karen DeSalvo says 

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

Google's recent healthcare reorganization is a response to lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, when the tech giant developed tools for contact tracing, mobility tracking and other clinical and hospital uses, Google Chief Health Officer Karen DeSalvo, MD, said. 

Last month, Google confirmed the dismantling of its Google Health business amid the departure of its chief, David Feinberg, MD, who joined Kansas City, Mo.-based EHR company Cerner. Teams under Dr. Feinberg's leadership will continue under a new structure, as the Google Health name will remain to include all of Google's work in health and wellness, a company spokesperson told Becker's on Aug. 23. 

In an interview with Bloomberg, Dr. DeSalvo, who joined Google in 2019, said the company is "not retrenching on health" and that she and her team are "busier than ever," according to the Sept. 9 report. 

Google's new strategy is an effort to embed healthcare research and initiatives into its core products, such as Google Search and YouTube, rather than launching new commercial services, Dr. DeSalvo said. 

"That work doesn't happen in one unit," she said. "It doesn’t really leverage or take advantage of the opportunities to meet people in the moment, where they are." 

Dr. DeSalvo attributed the reorganization to Google's work during the pandemic, in which the company released features for services including contact tracing and population mobility tracking. Google's purchase of Fitbit and growing partnerships with hospitals and health systems for its cloud products also support the company's move to restructure, Dr. DeSalvo said.

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