Google says health projects will continue even as it unwinds dedicated health division

USA – Google says it is ramping up its investments in health-focused initiatives even as it dissolves its single unified health division.

From consumer-facing products like sleep tracking tech with its Nest Hub smart home devices and Fitbit wearables to clinical initiatives like its Care Studio EHR search tool and its health AI work, Google has intensified its focus on health tech and expanded its reach into the healthcare market.

Those projects will now be split across Google’s myriad teams and divisions as the tech giant pivots away from a unified health strategy and reassigns its 570 employees across the company, according to a leaked memo obtained by Insider.

Google Heath was formed in 2018 as a way to silo all of the tech giant’s health efforts under one division. The company tapped Feinberg, former CEO of Geisinger Health, to lead it and develop a centralized, overarching strategy for the health-focused projects.

Back in June, the tech giant’s health division went through a significant reorganization, resulting in a downsized team and a streamlined focus on clinical and regulatory work rather than consumer-facing offerings, Fierce Medtech’s Andrea Park reported, based on initial reporting from Insider.

That reorg included a transfer of nearly 20% of Google Health’s staff to other teams throughout the company, including its search division and newly acquired Fitbit.

“That was telling and a sign of another fracturing of the unified healthcare strategy,” Becker said.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Google Health created community mobility reports to aid public health efforts and worked with Apple on exposure notification technology.

Google Health has built out clinical tools like Care Studio, developed an AI-powered dermatology assist tool and ramped up partnerships with health systems through its Google Cloud healthcare data products.

Tech giants have struggled to rebrand as health tech companies. Microsoft tried and failed at a personal health records business. Microsoft HealthVault launched in 2007 but ultimately closed down in 2019 because of low adoption.

There also came news last week that Apple is reportedly scaling back one of its most ambitious healthcare projects.

According to a report from Insider, Apple is scaling back HealthHabit, an internal application that Apple employees can use to track fitness goals, talk to clinicians and manage hypertension.

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