SCOPE 2019

Verily is on a mission to make health info useful, empower patients with their data

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Worawee Meepian)
(Image: Getty/Worawee Meepian)

Related tags Research Data collection

Alphabet's research organization Verily is on a mission to empower patients with their own data – and to collectively solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges, says SCOPE keynote speaker.

After introducing itself in 2015​, Verily today has more than 10 partnerships, including those with pharma giants J&J and Sanofi. An Alphabet company, Verily’s focus is on health care and life sciences, said Scarlet Shore, product manager and platform lead of the company’s Project Baseline.

“Our mission is to make the world’s health information useful so that people enjoy healthier lives,”​ Shore said at the SCOPE Summit last week in Orlando, FL.

Formerly a division of Google X, Shore noted the search engine’s ability to produce more than 7m results for “Verily”​ in less than a second – a flood of information akin to the data deluge facing the health care industry.

However, Shore said the future will only see more data being collected. Currently, the average patient generates approximately 5 gigabytes of data per year, she explained. Verily expects this number will soon increase 1,600 times to 8 terabytes.

Read: More data will be generated in 2019 than in the last 5,000 years

Still, pulling together data from sensors, imaging, electronic health records (EHRs), among other sources, on both the individual and population level is no small task. “This is one of the most complicated aspects of what we do,”​ said Shore, noting that data “is not useful if people can’t use it.”

There is such broad acknowledgement that there are issues we need to solve,” ​she added. “We believe that we need to work with folks that are doing this really well … So that collectively we can solve this problem.”

This “democratization”​ of data and research is a focus for the company, which in April 2017 launched Project Baseline, a longitudinal study that will collect data from approximately 10,000 participants over the course of at least four years in collaboration with Duke University and Stanford Medicine.

The study is the first for Project Baseline, which on a broader scale aims to develop a “baseline” of health – collecting data from myriad sources. It has since launched type II diabetes and mood studies, and is currently enrolling for “co-design”​ sessions to garner insight into participants’ experience using various products.

Project Baseline is among one of Verily’s several projects, including other precision medicine initiatives and development programs. Last year the company unveiled its “Study Watch” for clinical research. The investigational device captures data for an “unobtrusive trial experience,”​ Brian Otis, chief technology officer at Verily told us​ at the time.

Shore said the company hopes to “create an engaging interaction with people”​ and empower patients with their data. As part of this, the Baseline Project has made the commitment to return data to its participants – a task which she admits is going to be “incredibly complex.”

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