Google hires Geisinger CEO to chart healthcare strategy

David Feinberg will work with Google and other Alphabet companies to unify and innovate their various health projects. At Geisinger, Jaewon Ryu has been named interim president and CEO.
By Mike Miliard
01:29 PM
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Google has tapped Dr. David Feinberg, who has served as chief executive of Danville, Pennsylvania-based Geisinger since 2015, to help it develop and expand its healthcare strategy.

WHY IT MATTERS
Feinberg will be tasked with organizing and innovating Google's various healthcare initiatives, some of which overlap, according to CNBC, which first reported the hire.

The many projects of Alphabet, Google's parent company, with healthcare-focused activities include include: Verily, its life sciences division; DeepMind, which develops artificial intelligence; Google Brain, which also works on deep learning AI; Google Cloud, which hired a major health system CEO of its own earlier this year; Nest, which makes connected IoT devices for the home; and Google Fit, the health-tracking platform.

As Feinberg departs Geisinger, the health system announced that its chief medical officer, Dr. Jaewon Ryu, would take over as interim president and CEO.

THE LARGER TREND
Healthcare has been a major focus for Google in recent years, of course. Along with other Big Five tech companies such as Apple and Amazon, it clearly sees a big future in the industry and, after some earlier false starts, is gaining traction in a big way. Its aim here seems to be to bring some logic and order to its diverse and far-flung health-focused efforts.

Feinberg, for his part brings long experience and an innovative track record to the company. At Geisinger, which he joined after serving eight years as CEO of UCLA Health, he led several major initiatives that offered a unique approach to the patient experience.

For instance, ProvenExperience offered refunds to any patients who didn't feel they received "kindness and compassion" when receiving care at the health system. Earlier this year if launched a pilot designed to offer DNA sequencing as routine care to all of its patients.

ON THE RECORD
In a 2016 interview with Healthcare IT News, Feinberg offered a glimpse of the innovative approach he might bring to Google.

"I think our industry is ripe to be disrupted," he said. "And it's going to be disrupted because there's so much we do that doesn't add value. Waiting rooms have never cured anybody. Phone trees are not very fun when you're trying to order a pair of shoes. They're really not fun when your wife has had a stroke. People that treat you like a number, it's fine at the DMV because you don't have to go there all the time. It's not right in the healthcare system. We need to make it the year of the patient. And I think that has to be every year."

At Geisinger, meanwhile, Ryu said in a statement that he's looking forward to building on Feinberg's innovations.

"I am honored to take on the role of interim CEO at this important time for Geisinger and the healthcare industry," he said. "Together with our outstanding leadership team and the commitment of our 32,000 employees, we’ll build on our legacy of putting patients at the center of all that we do and maintain our commitment to research, education and innovation."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com