When Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, MD, stepped down from the helm of Cleveland Clinic, where he had served as chief executive officer since 2004, few thought he was ready to exit the healthcare industry altogether.
Still, many were surprised when Gregory Moore, MD, vice president at Google Cloud, announced in a July 19, 2018 blog post that Cosgrove would be joining the company as executive advisor to the Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences team. But in an email to Medical Economics, Cosgrove says Google Cloud’s mission to make healthcare information “accessible, useful, and secure” appealed to him.
“This team is making huge inroads in helping to balance the advances in digital health with the impact on those who provide care,” Cosgrove writes. “I’m thrilled to join them and look forward to continuing Google Cloud’s mission to improve provider efficiency and patient care through the use of technology.”
Cosgrove’s move follows other high-profile moves of individuals prominent in the healthcare industry into technology-related positions. Thomas Insel, MD, left the National Institutes of Mental Health in 2015 to join Google’s Verily, and recently left there to create his own healthcare technology start-up.
Meanwhile, famed surgeon and author Atul Gawande, MD, has taken command of the new Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan Chase healthcare partnership. But while these healthcare “defections” make headlines, it’s often unclear what such illustrious physicians have to offer these technology companies. What is the potential impact of Cosgrove’s new role with Google Cloud on the healthcare field—and the company’s position in it?
A matter of trust
As noted in a recent IDC Health Insights Survey, among the biggest barriers to cloud adoption in healthcare are concerns over the privacy and security of patient data.
Vince Vickers, MBA, a principal at KPMG Healthcare and Life Sciences, who has conducted cloud migrations for several healthcare systems, says that many organizations may have preconceived notions about Google as a secure cloud provider. Vickers says Google’s success in consumer data mining might make some wary of using them to help secure patient health information.
“Bringing in someone like Dr. Cosgrove, who is an icon in the industry—someone who has been successful as a physician and as a businessman in the healthcare space and really understands the challenges in this space—goes a long way to building that trust,” he says. “It can help make healthcare providers more comfortable with the idea of Google, and what Google Cloud might be able to offer to assist them.”