This article was published on November 4, 2019

Google wants to create the ultimate medical record search tool for doctors

Google wants to create the ultimate medical record search tool for doctors
Ravie Lakshmanan
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Ravie Lakshmanan

Google wants search to be the center of everything you do. Now, in a logical next step to make its search products the access point for all content on the web, the internet goliath is turning its focus to healthcare.

David Feinberg, the recently appointed head of its Google Health initiative, outlined plans to make it easier for doctors to search medical records, and improve the quality of health-focused search results across Google and YouTube.

“Imagine a search bar on top of your EHR (electronic health record) that needs no training,” Feinberg said at the HLTH health care conference in Las Vegas last week.

According to Feinberg, the search bar will supposedly allow doctors to type into it, with the system automatically displaying appropriate responses to the queries. For example, a doctor could just type the number “87” to return details about an 87-year-old patient with a history of stomach cancer.

It’s not immediately clear how much of the system has been actually built, but indications are that Mountain View is creating a separate landing page similar to Google Flights, but specifically for health search.

Feinberg was hired last November to oversee the tech giant’s fragmented health initiatives — including Google Fit, health-oriented features in Google Search, G Suite for healthcare businesses, AI-based health research offerings, and Alphabet subsidiaries DeepMind Health, Verily, and Calico.

This isn’t including its acquisitions of Nest, Senosis, and Fitbit, all of which are likely to factor in its long term play in the $3 trillion healthcare sector in the US.

But Google’s parent Alphabet is far from the only technology company that has made moves in health in recent times. Apple (medical clinics), Amazon (prescriptive medicine), Facebook (health reminders), and Uber (medical transit) have all taken nascent steps into the industry that are expected to continue in the coming years.

That’s not all. Earlier this July, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft joined hands with some of the biggest health insurers and hospitals for a new data standard to provide consumers with easier access to their medical information.

As technology increasingly intersects with health care, the development gives the companies plenty of space to operate without directly competing with each other, at least yet so far. It’ll be interesting how this battle fares in the long run.

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