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

August 20, 2021, 10:47 AM UTC

David Feinberg, the executive who has led Google’s health division, is leaving to become chief executive officer of electronic medical records provider Cerner.

Cerner announced Feinberg’s hiring in a press release last night.

Feinberg, who held the rank of a vice president at Google, was hired with great fanfare in 2018 to head the tech company’s newly formed Google Health arm. The division was supposed to consolidate multiple efforts to break into the health care market and to provide health care–related technology—initiatives already underway in different areas of the company.

For instance, the health care wing of DeepMind, the London-based A.I. firm owned by Google parent Alphabet had merged with Google Health. DeepMind had been working on using A.I. to read and make diagnoses from eye scans and other kinds of medical imagery as well as an app to alert doctors when patients in the hospital were at risk of developing acute kidney injury.

Feinberg’s departure may signal that the technology giant is rethinking its approach to health care products and services.

“Google deeply believes in the power of technology to improve health and wellness, and we have increased our health investments across the company,” Google said in a statement. “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 immediately announce a successor for Feinberg. The Google Health division has more than 500 employees, and Feinberg reported to Jeff Dean, the senior vice president in charge of the company’s A.I. research and development, according to a February 2020 CNBC report.

Google Health struggled to make a major splash in the health care industry during Feinberg’s tenure. The company helped build contact tracing software for the COVID-19 pandemic alongside its erstwhile rival Apple, but that software has been less effective than hoped in helping to check the pandemic’s still churning waves of infection. Feinberg worked with Google’s YouTube to ensure that it provided more accurate information for doctors and other caregivers. And over the past year Google Health has expanded a software product called Care Studio, built in partnership with private U.S. hospital company Ascension, that helps doctors better navigate electronic medical records.

At Cerner, Feinberg will lead one of the world’s largest providers of electronic health records software. He succeeds Brent Shafer, who announced he was stepping down in May. Cerner said in announcing Feinberg’s appointment that Donald Trigg, its current president, would also be departing immediately.

Prior to joining Google, Feinberg, who is a medical doctor and also holds an MBA, had led the health care provider Geisinger, where he made the company a national leader in the savvy use of data analytics to improve patient outcomes and efficiency. Before that, he served as CEO of UCLA’s medical system.

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