Alphabet snaps up 2nd ex-ONC head for life sciences team

Dive Brief: Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences branch, has hired former ONC head Vindell Washington as […]

Dive Brief:

  • Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences branch, has hired former ONC head Vindell Washington as its chief clinical officer, the company confirmed to Healthcare Dive.
  • Washington, an emergency physician by training, served as National Coordinator for Health IT from August 2016 to January 2017. He departs a position as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana’s chief medical officer.
  • Alphabet has embarked on a campaign of high-profile healthcare hires in recent months as the Google parent company calcifies its strategy for the industry.

Dive Insight:

Prior to his tenure at ONC, Washington worked his way up the ladder of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, leaving as president of the medical group. After stepping down from ONC in the beginning of the Trump administration, he moved to his role at Louisiana’s biggest insurer.
Washington will bring his background in managing integrated clinical operations, delivery system reform and health IT to his new full-time role as CCO for Verily Health Platforms.
Alphabet has a history of snagging established health executives. Google’s health leader David Feinberg was the CEO of Geisinger for three years prior to joining the tech-savvy internet giant in late 2018.
Google hired Obama administration official Karen DeSalvo as its first chief health officer in October, just two weeks after Alphabet appointed former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf to oversee strategy across Verily and Google Health.
Washington took over the reins at ONC from DeSalvo, who took to Twitter on Monday to break the news and welcome the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health graduate to the “Google family.”

Washington is joining a team helmed by Vivian Lee, a former dean, SVP for health sciences and CEO of University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City.
Verily has a lot of irons in the fire heading into the new year. The division is working with Nikon on early detection of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema using Google machine learning models created by Google Research; testing a screening algorithm for diabetic retinopathy in India​; piloting a ​medication adherence pilot for patients with chronic conditions in tandem with Walgreens; perfecting a machine learning tool called DeepMass to improve the characterization of disease-relevant protein profiles​; and working on population health and disease management.
Verily is a primary driver of growth in the holding company’s non-Google businesses through its licensing and R&D capabilities.
Revenue in the non-Google divisions increased $46 million year over year for the first three quarters of 2019 mostly due to Verily, according to financial statements — though the sum $155 million brought in by these other bets in the third quarter last year only accounted for 0.4% of Alphabet’s total revenue.
Verily also announced Thursday it hired Telsa’s former CFO, Deepak Ahuja, as its next CFO.

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