Google is expected to name a prominent hospital-system chief executive to a newly created role overseeing the technology company’s health-care efforts.
David Feinberg is moving to the new Google health-care post after leading the Geisinger health system, which includes a health plan and hospital system operating in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
After The Wall Street Journal initially reported on Dr. Feinberg’s move, Geisinger, based in Danville, Pa., confirmed he was departing to take on a leadership role at Google.
Geisinger said that current chief medical officer Jaewon Ryu, an emergency-room physician and former executive at health insurer Humana Inc., will become the system’s acting president and CEO on Dec. 1. Dr. Feinberg will aid with the transition and depart Jan. 3.
Geisinger pioneered the use of electronic health records and other digital medical data. Its setup of integrating an insurer with a hospital system has been widely seen as a model, as more health-care companies try to blend various businesses under one roof. It has also been a leader in the broad use of genetic information to help manage and predict patients’ health conditions.
Google has launched various efforts in health care over the years with mixed success. Google Health, its first attempt to create an electronic health-records database, was launched in 2008 but was closed in 2011 after it failed to catch on with consumers and health-care providers.
Other health-care ventures launched under the broader Alphabet umbrella include Verily, an experimental life-sciences unit whose efforts include trying to develop glucose-level-sensing contact lenses, and Calico, a team led by former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson that is attempting to extend human longevity.
Google executives have highlighted potential medical advances to be made using artificial intelligence, training computers to automatically detect medical conditions by analyzing large amounts of data. Seeking to showcase its leadership in the field of AI, the company recently demonstrated how these techniques can be used to detect a patient’s risk for various cardiovascular diseases using only an image of his or her eye.
The new Google leadership position is expected to provide strategic direction for the initiatives already under way at the company targeting health care, from web services to machine learning to devices, one of the people familiar with the matter said.
Dr. Feinberg, who has both medical and business degrees, took the helm of Geisinger in 2015, after serving as CEO of the University of California, Los Angeles health system.
In a statement supplied by Geisinger, Dr. Ryu said Geisinger will “build on our legacy of putting patients at the center of all that we do and maintain our commitment to research, education and innovation.”
Dr. Feinberg, also in a written statement, said he is “leaving Geisinger in capable hands as the leadership team continues to advance Geisinger’s important mission of taking care of the people we serve.”
Appeared in the November 9, 2018, print edition as ‘Tech Giant Taps Health-Care Industry Veteran.’