At CONVERGE on Tuesday, Kat Akbari, the head of industry for health at Google, talked about smart pharma marketing campaigns, the crucial elements of a successful app and consumer expectations for digital experiences.
She also mentioned Larry Page’s health problem that sparked his interest in accessible medical records. In 2012, Page lost his voice. About a year later, he had recovered – mostly – but doctors could never find an exact cause of his problem. Both his vocal cords had been damaged and the pitch of his voice changed as a result.
“Larry really feels that if he were able to have access to everyone’s health record, we could learn a tremendous amount,” she said. “He believes that we should all have our health records out online and searchable.”
To encourage that kind of sharing, Page funded a research project at the Voice Health Institute and:
…we’ve put together a patient survey to gather information about other people with similar conditions. As it’s fairly rare, there’s little data available today — and the team hopes that with more information they can make faster progress. If you have similar symptoms you can fill it out here: voicehealth.org/ip
Recently Page’s partner at Google, Sergey Brin, seemed to dismiss any chances that Google would move into the IT side of healthcare.
I asked Akbari about this comment and whether she thought anything could change Brin’s mind. She admitted to feeling disappointed by this statement too, but pointed out that Google has several health initiatives in the works, even though the company is not diving into HIPAA territory or attacking interoperability problems.
“Calico is one example, and the Google X team is working on Glass and the contact lenses and they are looking at a lot of cancer data as well; they are very very committed to it,” she said. “But we don’t know much about that team internally. We don’t even know where those people sit.”