Google, the tech giant has been planning to revolutionise the healthcare industry for a long time now. However, Google’s achievements, though in early-stage, have demonstrated some breakthrough results so far. This write-up intends to discuss some of the most powerful ventures from Google, which not only contribute to significant healthcare innovation but also promising medical research.
On 24 July 2014, Google announced ‘Baseline Study’, to make it easier to gather large data from clinical study participants, with the help of sensors installed in wearables and smartphones. The project aims to help predict the onset of diseases, and identification of biomarkers for certain major diseases, thereby focusing on medical research that is cantered on prevention rather than treatment. According to Google, “Baseline Study is a medical and genomics project organized by Google, Inc. that aims to map a healthy human body.”
Google Genomics is the company’s most prestigious project launched with an aim to collect and compare millions of genomes to help further propel medical research. In this regard, Google has planned to create cloud-based consortium of genome data that could contribute to the development of novel therapeutic options for a range of diseases.
In August 2014, Google announced Google Fit, an open platform for developers to build fitness apps, which links with a variety of wearable trackers and also several third-party health apps. Google Fit is made up of three APIs namely Sensors, Recording and History – are the Google-prescribed standards for getting data from physical sensors to apps and interfaces that want to use it.
It provides a single set of APIs they can use to store and access activity data from fitness apps and sensors on Android devices. Health data collected and interpreted by Google Fit includes activity times and types, calories burned, pedalling rate, wheel speed, distance covered, pulse rate, height, weight, power generated in a workout, steps taken and elevation.
Google Fit is more of an Android Health App that collects health data from a range of wearable devices, and provides a summarised or pictorial representations of a person’s health statistics. When installed in an Android device, Google Fit automatically detects, walking, cycling and running statistics using the built-in sensors of the smart phone device. On the other hand, Google’s Telehealth tool has greatly contributed to the self-diagnosis trend. The company’s entry into the Telehealth space started with the ‘Healthcare Helpouts’ tool that could be connect consumers who have medical queries with physicians who can answer them through video calling.
When it comes to industry partnerships, Google and Novartis are planning to develop smart contact lens that could monitor blood sugar levels via miniature sensors and a micro-thin radio antenna. Later, the data could be uploaded to a mobile device and accessed by both patients and physicians. Meanwhile, Google has collaborated with Quest Diagnostics to provide secure electronic access to patients’ diagnostic laboratory testing information from over 100,000 physicians nationwide. The partnership aims to facilitate and enhance communications between physicians and patients.
Considering the enormous need to integrate ‘Data’ and ‘Medicine’ owing to rising healthcare costs, has paved way for partnerships between conventional healthcare industry players and technology giants. However, a major challenge would be to overcome the stringent laws and regulations in the healthcare sector and produce promising and reliable healthcare solutions.