Is Google’s new healthcare guru searching for EHRs?

Google has a new man to lead its healthcare ventures, with experience in integrated care systems, electronic health records and genetics. At the same time, the US-tech giant has finally moved Deepmind, its UK-based healthcare data algorithm mining company over to its US HQ. Coincidence? We think not.

Could some kind of international electronic health record be in the pipeline? Let’s look at the evidence. Less than ten days ago, a US-based magazine published an interview with David Feinberg, the CEO of American integrated healthcare system Geisinger in which he said he’d turned down a job to lead the Amazon-Berkshire-J.P. Morgan joint healthcare venture to stay at the “Pennsylvania-based integrated health system he’s been leading since 2015”.

Just days later, and it’s announced he’s been hired from a month’s long recruitment process at Google. Awkward.

According to American media outlet CNBC: “Feinberg’s job will be figuring out how to organise Google’s fragmented health initiatives, which overlap among many different businesses.” Most of these initiatives are still contained within the US, except one. DeepMind’s algorithms are trained to read consented patient records in the UK’s NHS to diagnose disease. This is a fork in the road for Google. It could push forward with healthcare data in the UK and beyond, or it could give up.

The obvious problem is privacy. Commentators across the UK are angry that Google might get hold of patient data. Up until this point Deepmind has maintained operational independence from its parent company.

But Feinberg has led one integrated healthcare system with electronic patient records for years. He’s likely to see the benefits for patients and the savings for healthcare systems. We think he could be making this big push.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Rachel Lewis or call 0207 183 3779.