Google has signed a major cloud computing deal that promises to set the stage to make a transition from traditional medical devices to smart ones that track and evaluate data. The company’s partnership with Flex, a $9.5 billion electronics manufacturer, is poised to accelerate change in healthcare tech and lead to more rapid and informed medical diagnoses.
The solution is anchored by BrightInsight, a platform which enables manufacturers of healthcare devices to connect them easily to the Internet via Google Cloud. If adoption proceeds as the two companies hope, this development will see vast reams of data uploaded for analysis. And because smart devices are always connected, they will also provide greater insights into a range of health conditions since information can be gathered and communicated throughout the user’s day.
Kal Patel, senior vice president at Flex, is critical of doctors for operating in a what he calls “a world of ignorance” – one where even computerized devices are unable to provide the level of analysis that physicians need to perform their jobs optimally.
“As devices go from being dumb to smart, they need to connect,” he explains. While monthly checkups may provide a snapshot of a particular medical condition, with greater connectivity healthcare professionals will be able to track health in real time and review historical data to develop better treatment plans.
Unfortunately, there are many hurdles that need to be cleared first. It’s one thing to use smart devices at home to turn on lights or remotely control thermostats, but having them share highly confidential medical information could be problematic, especially when strict privacy and security regulations are taken into account.
The Flex team hopes to provide a stable and secure solution to this challenge by delivering a common platform that all medical devices can use to share data. It’s one reason why the company partnered with Google, which is seen as a trusted provider with a strong commitment to security.
Innovation was also key to the deal. Google has earned a reputation for pioneering successful new technologies and committing resources to long-term change. “For us, we very much wanted to partner with someone who had the long view in healthcare,” says Patel.
The announcement of this partnership consolidates Google’s position in the healthcare market as it looks to gain ground on competitors such as Amazon and Microsoft. The upside for patients is hugely significant with McKinsey consultants predicting that applying Google-style data processing to healthcare could add $100 billion in value to the market.
The proliferation of smart devices in the home may soon be matched by a similar boom in the healthcare system – a prediction that truly banks on life being better in the cloud.