Original Post @ http://medicalfuturist.com
By: Dr. Bertalan Meskó
Verily, Calico, Deepmind, more than 150 patents in life sciences and countless collaborations with pharma companies. The search engine’s parent company, Alphabet takes its move into healthcare and medicine seriously. We looked thoroughly at what Google in healthcare looks like.
My Apple health chatbot referred me to the Amazon hospital where I got Google drugs
It’s 2030, a rainy Tuesday morning in downtown Seattle. While my self-driving car is taking me to a digital health symposium, I’m working on my keynote speech. Suddenly I receive a notification from my Apple health chatbot, Miri. The sensors measured my blood pressure, my heart rate, my oxygen saturation, my stress level and my activities, and Miri recommended me to go and see my doctor for a check-up. As I couldn’t be sure whether it only goes down to my excitement due to the conference or there is something to be worried about, I go to the Amazon hospital.
My doctor is miles away, but he is connected to the medical team through telemedicine. They check my medical records attached to the Apple Health app, they examine me thoroughly, and finally, they prescribe me a pill for lowering my blood pressure produced and researched by Google. Do you see a future like this impossible?
What if we look at all the moves, tech giants are taking in healthcare?
Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Google – the „big four” for healthcare?
In September 2017, Microsoft announced the launch of its new healthcare division at its Cambridge research facility, to use its artificial intelligence software to enter the health market. Only in two months, the FDA cleared the first medical device accessory for Apple Watch, Alivecor’s Kardiaband. A few months earlier, Apple had also launched an initiative called the Apple Heart Study in partnership with Stanford Medicine. Moreover, in December 2017, Tim Cook & Co. announced the development of an advanced heart-monitoring feature for future versions of its smartwatch. The latest news in January 2018 was that Apple is bringing health records to iPhones. After all these steps, is it so far-fetched to think that Apple might soon turn Siri into a medical chatbot that alerts you if something is wrong?
Of course, Amazon doesn’t want to lag behind. But Jeff Bezos is rather attracted to retail and pharmacies. According to CNBC’s news in January 2018, the Seattle-based giant hired one of Amazon’s most high-profile hires to date in health, Martin Levine. He could be joining the tech giant’s internal healthcare group known as 1492, which is testing a variety of secretive projects. Many analysts suspect that Amazon is considering selling prescription drugs online as rumor said in autumn 2017 or that it might be opening drug stores in its Whole Foods chains. Some analysts even regard Amazon’s favorite digital assistant, Alexa as the future’s possible digital doctor. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase also announced a partnership to cut health-care costs and improve services for their US employees.
And what about Google? More accurately, about its umbrella enterprise, Alphabet?
The Alphabet of investment
Larry Page says on the opening page of Alphabet that they do not intend to become a conventional company. When you look at their actions in healthcare, that’s definitely true. No other company in the Silicon Valley is investing so heavily in healthcare-related companies as Alphabet’s venture arm, GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) does.
Since it raised its first fund in 2009, it has backed nearly 60 health-related enterprises. Their portfolio is very diverse ranging from genetics to telemedicine. GV invested in 23andme, the most well-known direct-to-consumer genetic testing company with one of the biggest DNA databases in the world. In addition, Google has stakes in Oscar Health, the New York-based venture disrupting health insurance; Doctor on Demand, a telehealth company helping people talking to physicians from afar; Flatiron Health, a company building a data platform dedicated to oncology or Impossible Foods developing plant-based meats and cheeses.
Moreover, CNBC says that five of GV’s healthcare bets have gone public in the last year, and 23andme plans to do that before the end of the year. It seems like a lot of well-placed investment money for Alphabet. However, that’s only one side of the story.