Google a Day Keeps Apple at Bay?

Apple and Google are both racing to conquer healthcare. But who will come out on top? Google just confirmed to Engadget that it’s testing a Helpouts-style feature which offers video chats with doctors when you search for symptoms. Google is being tight-lipped about everything else. All we have is this from a Google spokesperson:

"When you're searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning — our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available. We're trying this new feature to see if it's useful to people.”

This feels like a natural step for Google. People tend to search for symptoms online and get themselves into a frenzy over what condition they might have. In some cases, it is hard for doctors to convince the patients they are wrong once they have physically assessed the patient.

Still, it leaves too many unanswered questions. Can you discuss potential illnesses? How much will it cost? If you still need to see the doctor in person doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose?

This trial may be shrouded by mystery but it is just one facet of Google’s overarching goals to conquer healthcare. Just last year, Google launched Calico to cure death. Now Calico has partnered with a biopharmaceutical firm to focus on ageing and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  It has also launched a project to better understand the human body and has just acquired a San Francisco startup, Lift Labs that makes high-tech spoons and forks to smartly stabilize cutlery handling for those with Parkinson’s or Essential Tremor.

Now let’s examine Apple.

There is no doubt that Apple is a huge influencer over consumers and its announcement of HealthKit, the ability to collect data from various health and fitness apps offers huge potential.

Patients are also increasingly becoming empowered in their own healthcare and the HealthKit aims to provide a single comprehensive picture of your health profile. It is a grand vision but there will be major obstacles to overcome. Apple will have to deal with HIPAA regulations designed to protect patient privacy as well as iCloud security concerns. This is alongside seeking regulatory clarity and solving dodgy bugs.

Google might not generate much revenue in the short-term in comparison to Apple but its vision for the future of healthcare is far more ambitious than Apple. Now all it needs is just one medical breakthrough. 


Ayesha Salim is E-Content Writer at IDG Connect


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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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