Main Highlights:

  • In 2020, Google reminded the world of its efficacy as a healthcare company.
  • Google acted quickly to aid individuals and organizations in coping with the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak, even though Google itself was forced to operate at a reduced capacity.
  • Among other initiatives, the firm built the COVID-19 National Response Portal, an open data platform that will aid communities in reacting to the pandemic.

Google reminded the world in 2020 of its efficacy as a healthcare firm. Google responded fast to assist individuals and organizations in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, even though Google itself had to function at a reduced capacity. Among other projects, the business established the COVID-19 National Response Portal, an open data platform designed to assist communities in responding to the pandemic.

Google’s approach to the epidemic is a microcosm of how the business hopes to dominate the healthcare sector: by assisting individuals in maintaining optimal health through wellness care and managing the route to obtain care when necessary. Google is accomplishing this by developing a data platform connected to gadgets.

Managing healthcare

The first component of Google’s plan is to assist individuals in maintaining their health through wellness care. This is a rational and planned approach. As our population ages, healthcare costs continue to rise – medical debt is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. Assisting individuals in managing their fitness is critical for staying out of the hospital. Additionally, wellness is a 4 trillion dollar industry. Google is interested in a bit of that.

As with Apple, Google has an edge in personal healthcare: a data platform that is tightly coupled to gadgets. For example, Google Fit is an Android-based health-tracking platform akin to Wear OS and Apple Inc.’s iOS. It is a unified collection of APIs that allows for blending data from many apps and devices. Google Fit enables you to connect any Android-enabled device, such as a Garmin Watch to gather and store health data in one location.

However, hardware is critical to Google’s venture into health. Google’s gadgets, ranging from Chromebooks to Pixel phones to smart home devices, enable customers to control their data and Google to monetize it.

On the other hand, Meta lacks a physical device and is dependent on Google and Apple. Machines will power Google’s future in healthcare, and I expect Google will seize the opportunity and purchase another device firmly as it did with Fitbit many months ago. Because when you own the devices and hardware, you can collect and monetize even more data.

Obtaining medical treatment

Google’s second component of its healthcare plan is to own the patient route to care. And Google is unquestionably the uncontested leader of Big Tech in this regard. The firm has established itself as the go-to resource for those seeking information about their symptoms and locating care. From awareness to consideration, Google impacts every stage of the patient experience. According to YouGov and Reputation, Google is the most often used search engine for finding a physician or hospital — more frequently used than provider/physician websites, healthcare-specific websites such as WebMD and Healthgrades, or social media. Google is also the most often visited review site for healthcare customers.

  • This is not by chance. Google continues to enhance Google Search to make it more beneficial for caregivers, as seen by the following recent announcements:
  • It may now inform users about the health insurance networks that a provider may participate in. Additionally, searchers may filter for local doctors who take Medicare. These are significant developments. Our study indicates that insurance acceptance is the most important feature when evaluating a physician or service.
  • A means through which healthcare practitioners can inform potential patients about the languages spoken in their practice. Currently, Google supports more than a dozen languages, including Spanish and American Sign Language.
  • A feature that displays the appointment availability of healthcare providers, allowing care searchers to arrange an appointment more simply. Thus, if someone searches for “spine specialists near me,” they will get the names of appropriate experts and their available appointment dates and hours. They will be sent to a third-party website to schedule an appointment using a “book” button. This looks to be an expansion of the five-year-old Reserve with Google initiative. The first deployment appears to be confined to urgent care clinics and does not include a provider scheduler, but this may change in the future. Additionally, the organization is collaborating with CVS MinuteClinic and other undisclosed appointment schedulers.

Although Google controls the search for care, it has competition in the online care market. Amazon and virtual care provider Teladoc announced recently that consumers would be able to request doctors using Amazon Alexa’s voice assistant. Patients may get non-emergency medical assistance via a voice-activated virtual care service by informing Alexa (via an Amazon Echo device) that they wish to see a doctor. They will be contacted by a Teladoc physician.

Amazon is anticipated to expand its involvement in direct medical care and prescription medicine services via the Alexa-enabled Echo speaker, holding the largest market share for smart speakers. This move would use Amazon’s expertise in offering efficient services at an affordable price, backed up by Amazon Web Services as the cloud backbone.


What comes next?

To bolster its position in healthcare, I anticipate Google will:

Respond to Amazon by leveraging Google Assistant (Google’s voice assistant) to aid individuals in managing their healthcare through telehealth. Telehealth services grew exponentially in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Virtual visits increased 78 times in April 2020 compared to two months earlier, accounting for roughly one-third of outpatient appointments. Following that, telehealth utilization began to decline. Nonetheless, McKinsey reported that by 2021, telehealth utilization had surged 38 times over the pre-pandemic baseline. Through Reserve with Google, Google has put the elements in place — a voice-first experience is a natural step.

Through Google Business Profiles, you may more efficiently connect patients with physicians. For providers and physicians, Google Business Profiles are becoming increasingly significant. They are the primary means by which a company may be discovered in local search. And 65% of organic searches result in a transaction from within the Google experience – without ever leaving the Google experience. Google will expand the tools available to providers and physicians to transform their Profiles into second web pages. Chat, scheduling, and ratings/reviews are just a few of the features available. If Google gets its way, Google Business Profiles will become the focal point of the patient experience.

From fitness to finding care, Google plans to continue discovering new methods to retain people in its ecosystem. Google will gain more advertising revenue (because engagement and volume are like gold to online advertisers). Additionally, digital health will benefit.


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