Google, having disbanded Google Health as a unit and scattered their products and teams internally, has decided that behavioral health is worth spending on across business lines. Megan Jones Bell, Psy.D., formerly chief strategy and science officer of Headspace, recently purchased by Ginger, rejoins Google this week as their first clinical director of consumer and mental health.
She will be overseeing Google’s approach to mental health, supervising a team of clinicians, as well as coordinating primarily consumer-facing products such as the controversial verification of health information on Google-owned YouTube, across Google Search, Maps, Fitbit, and Cloud, medical products like the Care Studio EHR search app, depression screeners, and for employee health and safety. FierceHealthcare, Becker’s HealthIT
At least initially, Google does nothing in a small way. At HLTH21, Google’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo, MD boasted that “Our get up every morning, raison d’être, is impact. It’s helping billions around the world be healthier.” Then followed broad and ambitious statements about social determinants of health (SDOH) and advancing health equity. Both have become a standard script for executive speeches at these conferences, virtual and in-person.
When scattered across multiple lines of business, it’s a little difficult to track ROI. And perhaps, that is the real Googly Goal. This Editor is of the opinion [TTA 24 Aug] that health is only a part-time pursuit for Big Tech, and that the real game is monetizing data–on people and what can be sold to healthcare organizations. When Big Tech tries to solve the problem of health by itself–which surely sounds what Dr. DeSalvo is about–it stumbles. Just ask David Feinberg, who decamped for Cerner after many frustrations at Google.