David Blair: Top 40 Healthcare Transformers
Google, Head of industry, health
While some within the healthcare loop may have tired of the endless accolades heaped upon Google, it's hard to overestimate the influence of the world's biggest brand on health. Indeed, health—and attempting to solve some of the most vexing problems associated therewith—ranks high on Google's list of priorities, according to Blair. "The real tipping point for us has been the intersection of wearables and wireless Internet and the velocity of mobile technology. It's moving us from point-of-care to care-everywhere," he explains, adding that Google believes that the country is experiencing "macro changes" across the entire healthcare system. "Seeking health information is now the third-most-logged consumer activity on the Web, after email and search. People are on a huge quest."
Google has endured a setback or two in the health space. The company pulled the plug on Google Health, a platform intended to collect and store all of an individual's medical information in a single place, at the start of 2013. Unbowed, several months ago it introduced Google Fit, which focuses on fitness and nutrition rather than information from healthcare providers.
It goes without saying that Google is monitoring all aspects of, well, monitoring. That includes fitness wearables, of course, but also the activities of organizations like Teddy the Guardian, an Eastern European company that manufactures a plush teddy bear with heat sensors that can track children's vital signs in pediatric hospitals. It also includes Google's collaboration with Novartis on contact lenses that act as glucose monitors for diabetes patients. "We're seeing changes in all walks of everyday life. We're working across the spectrum," Blair says.
Google's multiple health endeavors share one thing in common: They're driven by the pervasiveness of Wi-Fi, biometrics and smart phones/devices. "We're trying to help everyone realize the velocity of the changes that are taking place in communication technology and interaction across devices," Blair adds. "It's not in the future. It's already here."