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What's Alphabet Got to Do With Healthcare?

By Motley Fool Staff - May 15, 2017 at 11:42AM

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The tech titan is working on intriguing research that could improve healthcare for millions of people.

Alphabet (GOOGL 2.37%) (GOOG 2.15%) has a treasure trove of data at its fingertips, and it's been more than willing to spend its financial firepower to take moonshots that could disrupt industries. These moonshots include collaborations with healthcare companies, including Medtronic (MDT 1.69%) and Dexcom (DXCM 0.84%), that could eventually reshape healthcare.

In this clip from The Motley Fool's Industry Focus: Healthcare podcast, analyst Kristine Harjes and contributor Todd Campbell discuss Alphabet's efforts to create new devices that could help patients live longer.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on May 10, 2017.

Kristine Harjes: Novartis is working with Alphabet's Google's Verily, which was formerly Google Life Sciences, on a smart contact lens that you put in your eye like a normal contact, and it measures blood sugar levels from your tears. So what they're hoping to do is have it change color if the levels aren't within normal range. That's straight sci-fi right there.

Todd Campbell: That is crazy. That is fascinating. And then, of course, you have Verily, which is part of Alphabet/Google, however you want to refer to them. Verily is working on a program with Dexcom to create sensors that peel off like little Band-Aids. Obviously, this is going to become a much, like you said, less invasive way of being able to track a disease and provide more information, and then hopefully that information can be used by the patient to at least delay disease progression so that they're not ending up with cardiac risk and risk of death later on in life.

Harjes: Right. This is another example of a tech specialist, Google, working with a healthcare-device specialist, which is Dexcom. Dexcom, in case you're not familiar with them, are a continuous glucose monitor, CGM, specialist. Dexcom has all these awesome CGMs that they've already developed, and now they see this tremendous advantage in being able to harness Google's analytic capabilities to make this better. They're working with Verily on developing a CGM that's no bigger than a Band-Aid. There would still be some insertion, because their system is based on a wire, but they're looking at ways other than a needle to insert it, which would not just be a better experience, but hopefully take the cost down.

Campbell: You know what's fascinating to me, Google is always on the cutting edge, in the way that they're doing research and discovering new ways and new approaches. They're not just a search engine. A few years ago, they came out with Google Glass. I don't know if our listeners remember Google Glass. Maybe some of them still have them kicking around. It's a head-up display that you attach to your glasses that allows you to access the internet, access information, and communicate with, say, your computer or PC. There are companies out there today that are still using Google Glass to improve healthcare. For example, there's a small company out in California called Augmentix. Augmentix works with physicians. Physicians will walk in to a primary care appointment wearing Google Glass; they'll be able to, through a scribe back at Augmentix HQ, be able to communicate and spend more time with the patient and spend less time on the paperwork. So basically, the scribe is writing down what's occurring, or taking care of the EHR, or electronic [health] medical record component of a physician's job, via the use of Google Glass. There's all sorts of ways that we're not even contemplating that wearables, be it from Google or Fitbit or Apple, or even [Amazon.com], could impact and change healthcare over the course of the coming decades.

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Stocks Mentioned

Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOGL
$2,229.76 (2.37%) $51.60
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOG
$2,233.33 (2.15%) $47.07
Medtronic plc Stock Quote
Medtronic plc
MDT
$104.26 (1.69%) $1.73
DexCom, Inc. Stock Quote
DexCom, Inc.
DXCM
$323.92 (0.84%) $2.69

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