Google Hires Former FDA Chief Digital Officer Bakul Patel

Google has hired a longtime FDA employee to lead its digital health strategy and regulatory efforts.

Bakul Patel will become senior director of global digital health strategy and regulation at Google, he announced on LinkedIn on Monday. Patel has held leadership roles in digital health at the FDA since 2014, most recently as chief director of global digital health strategy and innovation.

“I look forward to learning from the Google and Alphabet healthcare teams and helping build a unified digital healthcare and regulation strategy,” Patel said. A Google spokesperson confirmed Patel’s new role in an email.

Patel in April said he will leave the FDA in early May, saying he wants to study his “next chapter.”

He led the FDA’s digital health programs, including the launch of the Digital Health Center of Excellence. Center for Devices and Radiological Health in 2020. The center, which Patel led prior to his promotion to chief digital health officer earlier this year, is centralizing digital health work within the FDA, coordinating efforts to “modernize” digital health regulation and improve data. sharing and strengthening cybersecurity for medical devices.

Under his leadership, the FDA last year published its first “action plan” to regulate medical software that includes artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Patel also helped develop the FDA’s Digital Health Software Pre-Certification Program, a pilot program to validate product developers rather than individual devices, in 2017.

An agency spokesperson said in an email that the FDA has not named a new chief digital health officer. Brendan O’Leary, Associate Director of Digital Health at The Center for Devices and Radiological Health serves as Director of the Digital Health Center of Excellence.

Google develops medical algorithms and devices through its research divisions and Fitbit divisions, and with Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences research subsidiary.

Google has hired several senior healthcare executives as it builds its healthcare work, including hiring Dr. Robert Kaliff in 2019. Kaliff, who served as FDA commissioner during the Obama administration, has since returned to the FDA to serve as Biden’s commissioner. administration.

In 2019, Google also hired Dr. Karen DeSalvo, who previously headed the Office of the National Health Information Technology Coordinator for the Department of Health and Human Services, as its first Chief Medical Officer. Indeed, last year Dr. Amy Abernathy, former FDA Chief Deputy Commissioner for Food and Drug Administration, was named President of Clinical Research Platforms.

Patel, in a LinkedIn post on Monday, said that digital health would help the health care industry reach underserved populations, as well as predict disease earlier so people are healthier and don’t end up in hospitals.

“We are in the early stages of this journey and there is a lot of work ahead,” he said. said. “But the potential of applying technology to improve health at scale could mean better health for everyone in our lives.”

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