Google is shutting down its Google Health division, which was launched in 2018, to develop new technologies for the healthcare sector. Business Insider reported the move, citing an internal company memo from Jeff Dean, the head of Google’s research organization, under whose umbrella Google Health used to be.
The executive informed employees that the staffers who worked in the health division would move to other relevant parts of the company. A Google Health team that developed software to help doctors search for patient records will now report directly to Dean.
Another team working on the applications of machine learning to tasks like medical image processing will become part of the search and AI group headed by Veep Yossi Matias.
The division, which has been helmed by David Feinberg since its launch in 2018, will see its head join the publicly traded healthcare technology firm Cerner as the new Chief Executive.
The healthcare sector is still in Google’s sights despite the move to close down its health division. The search giant completed a $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit (the smartwatch maker) earlier this year to get its health-tracking IP.
Fitbit smartwatches are mainly sold to consumers but are used by healthcare providers in some cases as part of patient care and by researchers in clinical trials.
Google has not abandoned healthcare
Google’s cloud will continue to focus on healthcare as it has been assembling an impressive collection of solutions for use in organizations that include hospitals.
The latest addition to the cloud regarding health is the Healthcare Data Engine, which organizes medical information to make analysis easier and helps researchers find insights quickly to optimize things like clinical trials.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has two units (Calico and Verily) focusing on healthcare that are still operational, even after Google Health was shuttered.