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Google's Verily has a ‘bridge' device to collect and analyze clinical study data

by Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Reporter | March 14, 2016
Business Affairs Health IT Population Health
When you hear the term “connectivity bridge” you may be thinking of infrastructure, not health care — but Verily, the new name of Alphabet and Google’s life sciences business, has developed a medical device with that name to collect and sync patient information for people involved in clinical studies.

The bridge, which was recently revealed in FCC filings and written about in Business Insider, was approved by the FCC in September but photos just became public last week.

Described as looking like a snorkel mask, the device will be a wireless hub that can be used in medical facilities or patients’ homes. Collected data can be uploaded and sent to the cloud for analysis.

Verily is already providing sensor tracking and analysis for a multiple sclerosis study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The connectivity bridge could transmit data from those involved in the testing, particularly useful for those without Internet access, according to Business Insider.

In addition to MS, Verily is involved in other tests and trials including those for human longevity that could potentially be tracked by the connectivity bridge.

The connectivity bridge uses open source software. Those using Study Kit, a line of apps that collects health data the company – then known as Google Life Sciences – released in 2015, should also be able to charge and sync the Study Kit devices, Business Insider reports. The site notes that the Study Kit is part of the Baseline Study initiative that Google launched in 2014.

The Silicon Valley Business Journal called the connectivity bridge “Google’s latest attempt to produce a hub that gathers and shares medical data.” The business newspaper states Google is just one of several cloud companies that have become involved in health care in recent years developing products like Android Wear glasses, that capture health data for those wearing the glasses.

The Study Kit, SVBJ said, was just one route for Google to explore ways to collect medical and health data.

HCB News recently reported about President Barack Obama’s focus on using the Internet and technology to share medical records and health data during a White House Precision Medicine Initiative Summit. The summit marked one year since the president launched an effort to make patient data more available for researchers, to learn from the information and to improve patient care.

That story also noted that Verily and Vanderbilt University would be conducting a “big data” project tracking cancer patients for the National Institutes of Health.

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