Google ventures further into healthcare realm

Google's co-founders said earlier this month that they don't foresee the tech giant becoming a healthcare company, but that doesn't seem to be stopping the company from taking on more health projects--including its newest venture to create a full picture of what a healthy human should look like.

The project, called Baseline Study, will use the genetic and molecular information of 175 people to create that picture of pure health, according to a Wall Street Journal article. Later on, the information of thousands more people will be included.

This seems antithetical to comments by Google's co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, made in conversation with venture capitalist Vinod Kholsla in early July, as FierceHealthIT previously reported. During that talk, they said the healthcare industry is a painful business for entrepreneurs because of heavy regulations. 

The new Baseline Study project, unlike other mass genomics studies, will collect a much larger, broader set of data, according to the WSJ article. The project's goal, the article says, is to help researchers find killers like cancer much earlier on so emphasis can be put on prevention rather than treatment. Google will then look for patterns, or "biomarkers," in the information collected.

"With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems," Andrew Conrad, M.D., who will be running the project, said in the article. "You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like."

This study is not Google's first foray into health data collection and health IT--and probably won't be its last.

The company launched Calico, an organization focused on health and well-being, last fall.

In addition, Google is using wearable devices to help customers track their exercises and health data through the recently announced Google Fit, and its Google Glass technology can already be found in hospitals--including in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's emergency department.

To learn more:
- read the WSJ article