Google Health boss leaves to become CEO of health tech company Cerner

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Google Health VP David Feinberg will become the CEO and president of electronic health records company Cerner in October, taking over for current CEO Brent Shafer, Cerner announced on Thursday.

Feinberg had previously led Google’s health care initiatives since 2018 in a role that was created when he was hired.

Feinberg’s departure from Google suggests the search giant may be reassessing its ambition to create new products in its Google Health division to break into the the multi-trillion dollar market for health technology.

“The real pressure is ‘is this really going to help millions of people?’,” Feinberg said at a conference in June. “Is it Google scale? That’s the pressure.”

“Google deeply believes in the power of technology to improve health and wellness and we have increased our health investments across the company,” the company said. “We are grateful for David’s leadership and guidance over the past few years to help accelerate our health efforts and wish him the best.” The company did not announce new leadership for the Google Health group but efforts that are underway will continue.

The company still is investigating other health technologies in different divisions in Alphabet, Google’s parent company, including through Google Cloud partnerships with medical companies. As of Feb. 2020, Google Health had over 500 employees and Feinberg reported to Jeff Dean, Google’s head of artificial intelligence, CNBC reported at the time.

Feinberg also said at the time that his bosses at Google did not pressure him about the health team’s revenue.

At Google, one project that Feinberg worked on was the partnership to create Covid-19 tracing software with Apple. While apps built on the system are widely available, it hasn’t been a major factor in tracing coronavirus outbreaks. He also spoke about using YouTube to provide reliable information for doctors and other caregivers.

Feinberg said in June that another big focus was Care Studio, a partnership with Ascension about organizing patient electronic health records.

Now he’s in charge of Cerner, one of the largest electronic health records service providers, and a company that focuses almost entirely on software for medical professionals, instead of being a division in an information tech giant. Feinberg is a doctor and has an MBA. Before Google, he led Geisinger, a health care provider, and was CEO of UCLA’s hospitals, Cerner said in the announcement.

Cerner’s announcement concludes a CEO search that officially kicked off earlier this year. Cerner’s current president, Donald Trigg, will leave the company, it said in a statement.

Cerner shares rose about 0.5% after hours on the news, and are up more than 1% for the hyear.

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