The dedicated health unit at Google has been disbanded, with its 570 staff sent to different divisions within the Alphabet empire
Alphabet is reportedly disbanding its unified Google Health division, and instead will adopt a more distributed approach to developing health-related products.
The head of Google Health, David Feinberg, has also left the division and has joined US IT health services provider Cerner as CEO and President.
The fate of the remaining Google Health personnel has been revealed by Jeff Dean, Google’s AI head in a tweet, with an undisclosed number moving to
“As we’ve broadened our work in health across Google (Search, Cloud, YouTube, Fitbit, …), we have decided to move some @GoogleHeath teams closer to product areas to help with execution while nurturing some earlier stage products and research efforts,” he tweeted.
Google Health had reportedly been founded in 2018 as a way to consolidate Google’s fractured efforts in multiple healthcare areas, under a single division.
However the unit reportedly underwent some restructuring since that time.
Google will apparently remain invested in its existing health focused projects, but there will no longer be a single entity at the tech giant focused on health projects.
Google it should be remembered has its fingers in a number of healthcare related projects over the years, including Android fitness apps, medical study apps, and sleep-tracking features for its Nest Hub.
Deepmind and diabetes
In 2019 Google officially swallowed DeepMind Health and its team into its new health division.
Google had announced in November 2018 that it would transfer control of DeepMind to a new Google Health division in California, as part of its efforts to commercialise its medical research efforts.
DeepMind had been acquired by Google for £400 million in 2014.
The firm has had its moments in the spotlight, most notably in 2017 when a war of words erupted between Deepmind and the authors of an academic paper, which fiercely criticised a NHS patient data sharing deal.
Besides Deepmind and Android apps, Google has also been involved in other health related projects.
Perhaps the most notable was in 2014, when Google and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis agreed to develop ‘smart’ contact lenses, designed to help people with diabetes track their blood glucose levels.
And in 2019 Google’s then London-based DeepMind artificial intelligence unit created a working prototype of what would be its first commercial medical device, the result of the unit’s three-year collaboration with Moorfields Eye Hospital.
DeepMind performed a retinal scan and real-time diagnosis on a patient who had agreed to be examined publicly.
The scan was analysed by DeepMind’s algorithms in Google’s cloud, which provided an urgency score and a detailed analysis in about 30 seconds.