This Harvard researcher works with Amazon, Uber on digital health applications

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John Brownstein, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Boston-based Harvard Medical School and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital, has worked with a variety of tech giants to roll out digital health applications, CNBC reports.

Dr. Brownstein, who also practices as a computational epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital, told CNBC technology companies hold the potential to leverage digital data — whether from Google searches or social media posts — for actionable health insights.

He sits on the judging panel for the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, a Merck-sponsored competition that investigates how Amazon Alexa voice-enabled solutions can help Type 2 diabetes patients self-manage their care. He also worked with Uber in 2015 to launch UberHEALTH, a program that delivers free flu vaccines.

In one of his less successful ventures, Dr. Brownstein worked with Google to create its flu trends project in 2008. However, the program was canceled three years ago after investigators determined the search engine data was not accurate enough to estimate flu prevalence.

Still, Dr. Brownstein believes projects exploring the intersection of healthcare and technology will grow in the coming years, as technology companies improve their processes and healthcare organizations begin sharing data. "All of our online interactions tell us something important about our health," he told CNBC.

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