GOOGLE EYING BIG IN HEALTHCARE WITH AI
Google which has primarily been a search and advertising company is now more than focused in healthcare with its plans in detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease it is now targeting the $3 trillion US healthcare market. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, recently made more bold remarks which goes like “So tomorrow, if AI can shape healthcare, it has to work through the regulations of healthcare … In fact, I see that as one of the biggest areas is where the benefits will play out for the next 10 – 20 years.” Simply means that Google believes that healthcare’s future shall be more dependent on structured data and AI.
In fact among all big tech behemoths Google is the most active investor and acquirer of AI companies and start-up ventures as well as AI talent hunter in the Silicon Valley. Among its close competitors like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, Google is the one most centric approach towards machine learning.
The company has initiated various projects where AI stands to be the backbone in disease detection, new data infrastructure, and potentially insurance. The company is initially focused in the diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s, heart diseases, eye treatments and to name a few more. There are possibilities that the company may further venture into insurance on its own and hardware for medical practitioners and patents to most cases.
The whole game plan is that Google has tried and set up new processes of ingesting health data and AI has been put to place which can make sense more quickly and accurately than the existing ways and means. This has been further strategized by opening more AI research centers around the world, publishing more research papers and developing chips and hardware of its own to run AI / ML process.
Ever since 2015 with Alphabet Inc. becoming the parent company there have been structural changes put in place to have a more wider and departmentalized approach to all the research teams being set for various stages.
Verily – The subsidiary aims at improving healthcare through interventions, analytics tools, research, and more. The Study Watch, which isa advanced smart watch just like Apple watch but more from health perspective is awaiting FD approval, a centerpiece of a number of research initiatives discussed below.
Deep Mind – This was an acquisition of over $500M+ and is run by Demis Hassabis. Dedicated to AI research, whose main purpose is to find ways AI can be applied to healthcare?
Calico — Calico is run by Arthur Levinson, a former CEO at Genentech, this arm focusses learning about and then combating aging and age-related diseases. AI is put in use to understand large datasets and to automate certain lab processes.
GV — this is the venture arm of Google which aims at investments across different sectors that are growth related, and been seeing increasing its investing pace in healthcare companies over the last couple of years and has been pioneer in acquisitions in AI startups globally.
The whole process is divided in to the below three steps
Step-1. Data generation — this is the most crucial part of the overall plan, this aims at data digitization and ingesting produced by wearables0. like study watch and other medical equipment’s used to monitor and study patients among other method are imaging, and MRIs. This data generation process is critical to AI-driven systems that aims at early detection of various symptoms and diseases.
Step-2.Disease detection — the dataset is now put through AI so that it can detect anomalies and based on which of some disease can be easily detected.
Step-3. Lifestyle management — Here AI which has diagnosed someone with a disease or a case where symptoms are been detected precaution measures can be taken upfront and the same can be cured.
Verily, the most demanded arm is taken measures in detecting diabetic retinopathy with a partnership with Optos Nikon’s subsidiary, which makes machines used for retinal imaging tests and eye disease detection.
Google is taken a two way approach to the disease to which the world has cried foul for, for data generation and later based on which the heart condition can be monitored. The first is through Study Watch, developed by Verily which is basically used to monitor different biomarkers of study participants. The study participants include an electrocardiogram (ECG) and heart rate monitor, which will enable researchers to detect anomalies earlier and to understand the factors leading to heart related problems and diseases.The second is in a patent which aims at passive heart monitoring with the help of sensors and machine vision that is more user friendly for everyday user.
This again is one such area where Google aims big , Verily has been in the forefront of understanding the underlying causes of the disease by inculcating, analyzing data that leads to early disease identification so that personalized treatments can be put in place, and improved patient management can be the call of the hour.
MS is caused due to the immune system attacking the myelin sheath in the brain, causing damage of muscle control thus losing memory and more.Multiple sclerosis till date has been a without any known cause or cure.
Verily along with Biogen and Brigham and Women’s Hospital are all together setting long term study program to understand its developments. The selected few would be allowed and monitored to have Study Watch , which further encompasses clinical data in to the Verily ‘machine learning algorithms understand cause detect reasons of progress and finally look for precautionary measures.
IS GOOGLE MINTING MONEY FROM THIS NEW HEALTHCARE INITIATIVES?
When the juggernaut of the search engine and advertising world is diving deep into healthcare, it does mean a lot more to most of us. Given privacy concerns around people’s health information, venturing into insurance, supply of patented systems with AI assistance to medical giants for better healthcare plans and endless new ways. With the type of diseases Google is focused at it may soon dominate and be the search engine and intellectual pundit of the healthcare world through AI and machine learning.
Google can act as an R&D engine for medical devices and prototyping partner for new breakthroughs. IT can also be monetizing on being the IP and technology for new inventions in the medical field and later commercialize it to medical giants. One other way is selling products and services itself like its own line of AI differentiated hardware like Google Home, Google Pixel and more. The possibilities are numerous from symptoms alert through study watch to precaution information services Google can of course shake this $3 trillion US healthcare market and be again a giant in this vertical too.