Tag Archives: Google

Why Healthcare Needs A “Google Health”

Most people know that Google tried to jump into the healthcare space with Google Health a few years ago.  Google Health was (from Wikipedia):

Google Health was a personal health information centralization service (sometimes known as personal health record services) by Google introduced in 2008 and cancelled in 2011.  The service allowed Google users to volunteer their health records – either manually or by logging into their accounts at partnered health services providers – into the Google Health system, thereby merging potentially separate health records into one centralized Google Health profile.

Personally, if they wanted to build that, they should just go buy Dossia, and they would be there.  Looking backwards, you can read the announcement to cancel Google Health here, and there’s lots of articles out there about why it failed.

While they haven’t had a dedicated health team officially, they continue to have several health related projects:

  1. Helpouts is a video service that is HIPAA compliant meaning it could eventually compete with Teladoc, MDLive, and American Well.
  2. Calico is a newer company focused on aging which has lots of people wondering as they add well known executives to the core team.  
  3. They just came out with their smart contact lens to help diabetics test their blood sugar.
  4. Google has an app called My Tracks and an API to tap into some of the sensors in the phone that could be used for fitness apps.  
  5. Google X staff recently met with the FDA leading to some speculation.  
  6. Of course, there is also lots of discussion about how Google Glass could be used in healthcare.  (I personally think about the Checklist Manifesto as a perfect opportunity.)
  7. And, I would also point to the intelligent home (per their acquisition of Nest) as a venture which will lead them down the path of health at some point.

You could also look at the companies that Google Ventures is investing in from the health space:

I could have easily seen them investing in something like Theranos which stands to change the biometrics space.  

So…it’s not like they’re ignoring the space which isn’t unusual for many companies outside of healthcare.  Healthcare is hard.  Healthcare has lots of regulatory constraints.  In general, many companies want to avoid having to deal with some of those issues which can constrain the rest of their businesses.

But, let’s look at the critical and hot topics in healthcare right now:

  • BigData – how to use data; how to build predictive models
  • Engagement – how to personalize communications and engage consumers to take action from mass customization to segmentation to even gamification
  • Mobile and devices – how to use technology to track your steps, monitor your health, and collect data (see post about why your underwriter wants your mobile data)
  • Social – how to use social pressures and peers to create better health
  • Connectivity – how to connect devices, caregivers, pharmacies, providers, and others into a shared platform for care
  • Security – how to securely manage data
  • Transparency – collecting and aggregating pricing data to help consumers make intelligent decisions
  • User experience – creating user journeys and user interfaces to improve the overall consumer experience (perhaps changing the model like Uber (a Google Ventures investment))

Do those things sound like the competencies of any one company?  To me, they all sound like things that Google is good maybe even great at.  Additionally, the founders of Google have the big, picture and long-term vision that’s critical in healthcare.  Driving change in healthcare isn’t about meeting specific quarterly numbers.  It’s about seeing the world in a new light where you want to drive change and improve things like childhood obesity.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  

I wish I knew more about Google.  Someday, I’d love to work with them on some of these opportunities.  If so, I could see this being a perfect fit in the Google X world.  I could see them making a change as a core focus, as investors, or simply by creating enabling tools.  But, at the end of the day, this is why I think health needs Google to have a focus here.  It’s almost 20% of our GDP and something that impacts most people on a daily basis.  

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Conscious Home Mash-Up – More Likely Post Google – Nest?

In case you didn’t see it, Google acquired Nest the other day.  There’s lots of interesting articles out there about how this will fit in.

It was fascinating timing as I had just written about why Google should be in this space on Saturday.  

It got me thinking about other mash-ups to get into this space.

What about Pulte Homes working with BCBS of MI, the UAW, Ford, and the Henry Ford Health System to create a long-term retirement community built around an ACO with Medicare included?  This could be a great offset for the UAW and Ford to their healthcare liabilities.  It could create new provider models for Henry Ford.  It would create new building opportunities for Pulte, and it would provide new underwriting opportunities for BCBS.  

The other question that this brings up is who else will they acquire…or will others in this space get acquired by Cisco or AT&T or others that want to create this.  

I’ve reached out to the Nest founder and some people at Google and Google X.  (I don’t know any of them.)  This seems really exciting and similar to some of my thoughts.  I’d love to learn more.  

And, perhaps with the news that some of the Google X people met with the FDA, maybe Google is figuring out a way to get back into healthcare.  Hopefully, they don’t overlook the opportunity for patient remote monitoring in the smart home.  

Why Google Should Build The Next Seaside

In 1998, I wrote my first business plan which was about technology and architecture.  At the time, I had graduated from Architecture school and was working with Sprint on a data warehousing implementation.  It got me thinking about how to create a series of connected devices and link them to an enterprise system to manage that data for a smart home.  At the time, I think people thought I was crazy.

Jump forward 15 years and it all seems to make more sense.  For example:

Now, this type of connectivity is called the Internet of Things (#IoT) which based on Wikipedia is:

“The Internet of Things (or IoT for short) refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The term Internet of Things was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 2009.[1] The concept of the Internet of Things first became popular through the Auto-ID Center at MIT and related market analysis publications.[2] Radio-frequency identification (RFID) was seen as a prerequisite for the Internet of Things in the early days. If all objects and people in daily life were equipped with identifiers, they could be managed and inventoried by computers.[3][4] Besides using RFID, the tagging of things may be achieved through such technologies as near field communication, barcodes, QR codes and digital watermarking.[5][6]

 

Equipping all objects in the world with minuscule identifying devices or machine-readable identifiers could transform daily life.[7][8] For instance, business may no longer run out of stock or generate waste products, as involved parties would know which products are required and consumed.[8] A person’s ability to interact with objects could be altered remotely based on immediate or present needs, in accordance with existing end-user agreements.[3]

According to Gartner there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.[9] According to ABI Research more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (Internet of Everything) by 2020.[10] Cisco created a dynamic “connections counter” to track the estimated number of connected things from July 2013 until July 2020 (methodology included).[11] This concept, where devices connect to the internet/web via low power radio is the most active research area in IoT.”

Or, if you prefer McKinsey to Wikipedia, here’s their article about the Internet of Things:

“More objects are becoming embedded with sensors and gaining the ability to communicate. The resulting information networks promise to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks.”

With all the buzz about Google’s buses and catamaran’s to ship their workers to the GooglePlex, it got me thinking about them creating a smart city.  They could have their smart cars running around.  They could even create a scalable version of smart roads that re-charge the electric cars eliminating the need for charging stations.  Or maybe, this would be something for Elan Musk who has his HyperLoop vision and Tesla Motors.  This could even play into the Green (or Sustainable) Architecture effort.  I could one day imagine a home recycling station that turned your used plastic into materials that could be used in your 3D printers. 

Of course, the key is a core infrastructure that manages all of this data and starts to create algorithms for how to use it.  Image being able to log in and get information about your house, your kids, your community, and your health.  Some things are already out there and being developed.

  • Mother is a technology that summarizes all of this data and pulls it together for people to use and monitor. 
  • Twine monitors your home and provides you with information such as your garage door is left open. 
  • Ninja Sphere is another solution for controlling your home devices.
  • Thing Worx is another solution focused on this connected house.
  • Cisco has a section dedicated to the Internet of Things.
  • Qualcomm and Verizon and others are getting into the health space, and you have companies like ADT or Time Warner that are already in the home and could expand into the health space. 

The other thing that all this data drives is the need for insights.  It’s no good to have data without the ability to turn it into knowledge.  This is again something that Google knows a lot about.  Imagine having a connected team of physicians that monitor your health based on your sleep patterns, your adherence, your exercise, and other key metrics such as blood pressure.  Imagine a dietician that monitored your food and gave you ideas about how to eat better.  There are lots of ways for the data to be used in an obviously Big Brother way, but if that could be turned on and off, then we could gain the insights without having to give up all our privacy. 

But, in general, many people are willing to trade privacy for insights.  That’s what we do every day. 

This idea of the Smart Home or Connected Home or Intelligent Home got me thinking over the holidays.  I even emailed Pulte Homes and Lennar Homes to see if they were doing anything in this space.  (They didn’t respond.)  I did stumble upon Home For Life Solutions which seems to be thinking about some of this and was talking about this back in 2009 in an article about Smart Homes and Aging in Place.    I was talking to a friend on Friday, and he shared with me some very cool things that The Villages in Florida is doing to incorporate health into their community. 

I can see so many opportunities here especially around the concept of Aging in Place.  Imagine all the Baby Boomers getting older and wanting to stay in their homes.  I’m not sure what Calico is going to do, but this could be an opportunity for them.

In a recent issue of TIME, Page discussed how Calico will treat aging and related diseases. He didn’t reveal much about the methodology, but stressed that Calico’s team will “shoot for the things that are really, really important.” The goal for Calico’s research according to Page, is to help prevent many diseases and have a greater impact on public health than drugs that target individual diseases. (from MedCity News)

Of course, this is why the concept of Seaside came to me.  A small, planned community where you live, work, and play.  There is also research by the CDC on healthy sustainable communities.  And, of course, there’s the efforts to create Blue Zones as communities

Imagine if this community existed.  You would be able to create your own insurance company.  You could offer discounts.  You could do the same with life insurance.  It could be like the Snapshot from Progressive

And, there is so much more opportunity:

  • When you drive into your driveway, why can’t your garage door recognize you.  Why do you have to press a button to open the garage?
  • Why can’t my purchases at the store be tracked online so I always know what I have and what I need?
  • Why can’t a smart cookbook recommend a recipe for tonight based on what food is at home, what food’s about to expire, and what I ate for lunch to create a balanced menu and caloric mix?
  • Why can’t my devices order my prescriptions for me when I’m low?
  • Why can’t my calendar automatically reschedule my doctor’s appointment when something else comes up?
  • Why can’t my running shoes automatically order a new pair of shoes when the cushioning gets low due to too many miles? 

One day, this will all happen where our house will be smart.  It will understand what I like in terms of lighting, shows, and music.  It will tap into my devices.  And, I’ll be able to get monitored and insights that improve my life.  And, best of all, this will be done in a sustainable way that improves the environment and our quality of life. 

So…maybe I can get Google or someone else excited about this idea!  It will take someone with a big vision to change the world, but I think it’s a huge opportunity!


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