What the new Google, Verily deals mean for healthcare

Google and its sister company Verily made two big moves in August that strengthen the tech giant's healthcare capabilities.

The first was Google Cloud's $100 million investment in telehealth company Amwell, announced Aug. 24. Amwell has more than 2,000 hospital, 55 health plan and 3,600 employer clients in the U.S. As a result of the partnership, Amwell switched from the Amazon Web Services cloud to Google Cloud as its preferred global cloud platform provider.

Google Cloud and Amwell aim to use artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to automate waiting room and checkout processes. They will also offer automated language translation services and assist in routine tasks for payers and providers. The partnership will also focus on triaging clinical workflows and lowering clinician fatigue.

Aashima Gupta, Google Cloud's director of global healthcare solutions, told CNBC that she expects telehealth usage to continue due to more favorable reimbursement and consumer demand. Google Cloud's largest customers include Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and St. Louis-based Ascension.

In a recent Fortune op-ed penned by Mayo CEO Gianrico Farrugia, MD, the health system's top executive lauded Google's support as the cornerstone of its digital transformation and ability to resolve complex issues, which has become critical during the pandemic.

"The pandemic's disruptive force has spurred transformational change in our organization, as well as in many others. We must actively resist a return to the old way of doing things, maintain the improvements we've made, and continue to invest in research and strategic collaborations that will produce a healthcare system that serves everyone better." Dr. Farrugia said.

The second big move came Aug. 25, when Verily established Coefficient Insurance Co., a subsidiary to apply technology and data-driven solutions to employer-sponsored stop-loss insurance. Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, Swiss Re Group's commercial insurance unit, backed the insurance subsidiary.

Coefficient will use Verily hardware, software and data science. The technology can detect unexpected cost volatility and cover them to reduce exposure. Swiss Re made a minority investment in Coefficient.

"We're hoping to be more personalized in the way we offer health solutions," Verily President of Health Platforms Vivian Lee told CNBC.

The company may eventually integrate existing initiatives, including its service to help employer customers manage workers with diabetes, into the new platform.

While Google Health and Verily operate separately under Alphabet, these moves offer a window into how big tech companies are integrating with healthcare offerings and reimagining how the healthcare system works. For further analysis of Google's healthcare strategy, click here.


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