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November 5, 2019

Google Health's vision for your EHR, according to VP David Feinberg

Daily Briefing

    Google Health VP David Feinberg at a conference last week outlined a vision for an EHR search function powered by Google technology.

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    Feinberg, who previously served as president and CEO of Geisinger Health, came to Google at the beginning of 2019 to help bring strategic direction to Google's health initiatives. CNBC reports that Google has spent years working its way into the health care industry but has "struggled" with some of its initial projects, including its Google Health medical record service. As CNBC reports, hiring Feinberg positions Google to draw on his experience in the "traditional health sector" to help the company make a greater impact in the industry.

    Google eyes searchable EHR

    At the HLTH conference last week, Feinberg shared some ideas under consideration at Google Health, including a searchable EHR function. "Imagine a search bar on top of your EHR that needs no training," Feinberg said. He explained how the search function might work, giving an example of a doctor typing "87" into a search bar to find and auto-complete the information for an 87-year-old who has a history of stomach cancer.

    The move would represent "a big deal for clinicians," according to CNBC. Feinberg noted that physicians have expressed frustrations with the amount of clerical work they have to do with their EHRs.

    Feinberg did not specify whether Google would compete with EHR vendors but did suggest his organization could help with the legwork, according to CNBC.

    Better health information online

    In addition, sources close to Feinberg said he wants to improve the reliability of health information that Google users come across online, CNBC reports. Feinberg has noted that patients are increasingly searching for medical information online, and he wants to reduce the odds that patients will, for instance, assume having a headache means they have a brain tumor, according to CNBC.

    A source familiar with the topic told CNBC that the organization has considered creating a page similar to Google Flights for health information.

    However, it's not yet clear how far along either idea is, or if they will even come to fruition. According to CNBC, Google's search team would need to sign off on any changes to the dedicated health search. However, Feinberg's comments do offer some insight into how Google Health is thinking about the health care industry and role it may serve (Farr, CNBC, 11/2; Fingas, Engadet, 11/3; Lakshmanan,, 11/6). 

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