Google Testing a Health-Tracking Band for Drug Trial Patients

The health wristband could help doctors and others monitor the condition of patients in clinical trials when they are away from the hospital.

Google, Google X, clinical trials, drug trials, wearables, health care, health data tracking

Google is experimenting with an innovative health-tracking band that doctors could use to help monitor patients in clinical and drug trials, even when they are away from the hospital.

The research into the special wristbands is being done by Google's life sciences group inside the company's Google X research division, and can so far track a patient's pulse, heart rhythm and skin temperature, as well as light exposure and noise levels, according to a June 23 story by Bloomberg.

The band is not intended as a consumer device, but is being targeted for use by doctors and other clinicians as a way to monitor how patients in clinical trials are doing around the clock, even when they are at home or at work, the article reported. That kind of constant patient monitoring has been difficult to do in the past, but through the research surrounding this band, it could be a more viable possibility in the future.

Andy Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google, told Bloomberg that Google is collaborating with academic researchers and drug makers to test the wristband's accuracy as part of the research and will then seek regulatory clearance to use it in the United States and Europe. Clinical trials of the band are expected to begin this summer, according to Google.

Google has been involved in other interesting health care research and projects in the recent past.

In September 2013, Google launched a new health care company, called Calico, with a goal of finding ways to improve the health and extend the lives of human beings. The startup has been focusing on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases, according to Google.

Back in 2008, Google launched its Google Health initiative, which aimed to help patients access their personal health records no matter where they were, from any computing device, through a secure portal hosted by Google and its partners, according to eWEEK reports at the time. Google Health shut down in January 2013.

In June 2014, Apple unveiled its HealthKit platform, which allows developers to build apps that can collect information from various sources—such as a user's Fitbit account, a Nike running app and a blood pressure reader—and present it together as a single, more complete health profile, according to an eWEEK report. HealthKit can also communicate with third-party apps, such as the Mayo Clinic app.

In January 2014, Google unveiled work it has been doing with special contact lenses that are equipped with miniaturized sensors that can analyze the tears in the eyes of diabetes patients to determine when their blood sugar levels need to be adjusted. In July 2014, drug maker Novartis licensed the Google smart lens technology to continue that work.