Jan 21, 2022 - Health

The latest iteration of Dr. Google

Axios Pro launch event Erin Brodwin
Axios Pro Launch Event

Google Health formally disbanded last year, with the unit instead choosing to spread its efforts across the organization. In this iteration, the company is working to imbue each of its numerous divisions with health expertise, Google chief medical officer Karen DeSalvo said during the Axios Pro kickoff event.

Why it matters: Google isn’t backing away from health, but rather deepening its investment in the category by infusing its work into virtually every sector of the company, from wearables to partnerships with hospitals and health systems.

  • “We have such a relationship already with consumers who come to us for Dr. Google, and some of that is quality information, but we also want to help them take action,” DeSalvo says.

Behind the scenes: Many of those divisions resulted from health and wellness acquisitions, so it will be interesting to see how Google continues to bring them into the larger company fold.

  • In 2014 it bought Nest for $3.2 billion in cash and later developed a sleep tracker. It then acquired DeepMind for an estimated $400 million and later created Streams, a clinician-support tool designed to help predict acute kidney injury. 
  • In 2021 it purchased Fitbit for $2.1 billion. While its plans for the wearable maker remain TBA, DeSalvo calls it “a data resource” that’s “been growing to focus on health.”

Details: Wearables are “also part of a broader suite of sensing devices,” DeSalvo says, “so when we work with a health plan, they're thinking about how to bring those tools to bear for customers, because people want digital-first, but also digital sensing. So we're increasingly looking for ways we can be helpful to health systems to give personalized insights to their customers.”

Erin co-authors the Axios Pro newsletter on health tech deals. Subscribe at AxiosPro.com.

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