Google’s Medical Probe

February 5, 2009

Yikes, a medical probe. Quite an image for me. In New York City at one of Alan Brody’s events in early 2007, I described Google’s “I’m feeling doubly lucky” invention. The idea was search without search. One example I used to illustrate search without search was a mobile device that could monitor a user’s health. The “doubly lucky” metaphor appears in a Google open source document and suggests that a mobile device can react to information about a user. In one use case, I suggested, Google could identify a person with a heart problem and summon assistance. No search required. The New York crowd sat silent. One person from a medical company asked, “How can a Web search and advertising company play a role in health care?” I just said, “You might want to keep your radar active?” In short, my talk was a bust. No one had a clue that Google could do mobile, let alone mobile medical devices. Those folks probably don’t remember my talk. I live in rural Kentucky and clearly am a bumpkin. But I think when some of the health care crowd read “Letting Google Take Your Pulse” in the oh-so-sophisticated Forbes Magazine, on February 5, 2009, those folks will have a new pal at trade shows. Googzilla is in the remote medical device monitoring arena. You can read the story here–just a couple of years after Google disclosed the technology in a patent application. No sense in rushing toward understanding the GOOG when you are a New Yorker, is there? For me, the most interesting comment in the Forbes’s write up was:

For IBM, the new Google Health functions are also a dress rehearsal for “smart” health care nationwide. The computing giant has been coaxing the health care industry for years to create a digitized and centrally stored database of patients’ records. That idea may finally be coming to fruition, as President Obama’s infrastructure stimulus package works its way through Congress, with $20 billion of the $819 billion fiscal injection aimed at building a new digitized health record system.

Well, better to understand too late than never. Next week I will release a service to complement Oversight to allow the suave Manhattanites an easy way to monitor Google’s patent documents. The wrong information at the wrong time can be hazardous to a health care portfolio in my opinion.

Stephen Arnold, February 5, 2009


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