By: Earnest Jones | 04-23-2017 | News
Photo credit: Ffang |

Google Pays $100 Million for Invasive Experiments in Predictive Medicine

Predictive medicine is a trend in healthcare that is growing exponentially. The greatest indication to date that this is bound to be the future of disease prevention and patient care is a massive new investment by tech behemoth and king of the algorithm, Google.

The progress in predictive modeling will require a group of people to be tracked and monitored like never before. There will obviously be some concern about what the future will look like if all of our most intimate functions are logged and analyzed for inspection by the central computers of Google and the healthcare State.

Google does not only deal with online browsing and search engines; it has a health division called Verily. The division began in 2014 as Google Life Sciences and has become one of the company’s most intricate and far-reaching endeavors. Special emphasis has been placed on a specific mission to predict future illness.

The bold mission has now been called Project Baseline. Initial estimates put the price tag near $100 million. The progress in predictive medicine initiatives is demonstrable in everything from consumer wearable electronics with simple monitoring capabilities right up to smartphone apps that have been developed to connect doctors to patients with a history of depression.

Technology is being employed as an elective measure to better the overall physical and mental fitness. However, one also should understand that it is the merger of healthcare and insurance where the slippery slope might be found. A publication known as the Managed Care revealed in one of its articles that more data in health care will enable predictive modeling advances.

One of the cornerstones of care management is Predictive modeling (PM). Health plans, integrated delivery systems, and other healthcare organizations (HCOs) increasingly channel their patients to interventions based in part on what they deduce from predictive models that have traditionally been run against databases of administrative claims.

Health care experts see predictive modeling as an opportunity to prevent disease complications, control hospital readmissions, generate more precise diagnoses and treatments, predict risk, and control costs for a more diverse array of population segments than previously attempted. This field will allow Google to be at the forefront of making it a reality. As the Project Baseline website confidently states: we’ve mapped the world, now let’s map human health.

The project has enlisted Duke University School of Medicine and Stanford School of Medicine in the quest to collect comprehensive health data and use it as a map and compass, pointing the way to disease prevention. However, despite the huge financial investment offered to some of the best minds in establishment medicine, people are the missing component. This is because volunteers are used to collecting the data set required for the project.

Verily projects need 10,000 American volunteers who will agree to submit to a battery of real-time testing over a period of 4 years that will include x-rays and heart scans, in addition to having their genomes deciphered and their blood tested in so-called liquid biopsies molecular testing, including the sequencing of participants’ DNA.

The project will also collect volunteers’ stool, saliva, and even tears. The day-to-day monitoring will be done via wrist watch, but volunteers’ homes also need to be retrofitted to accommodate additional testing including mattress sensors and a special router that will record sleep behavior and transmit the information to scientists.

The project is a massive undertaking that is amplified by the fact that not all 10,000 people are expected to sign up at the same time, so the company anticipates at least a ten-year timeline for just the study to be completed.

MIT highlighted some key issues that appear on the project’s website pre-application which have already plagued all areas of technology. Such include questions on how secure the information that is collected is and will it be shared or even sold to third parties. The Doctors involved claim that data collected from volunteers will remain closely held by Verily for two years. However, after that, it will be made available to other researchers.


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