Healthcare News

Google Cloud joins forces with multiple healthcare partners to boost data access and improve outcomes


Google Cloud announced today at this year’s HLTH 2022 event that it’s working with organizations across the healthcare sector to help them transform their technology stacks into an open and collaborative ecosystem that can significantly improve patient outcomes.

In a blog post, Google Cloud’s director of Global Healthcare Solutions Aashima Gupta said the healthcare industry is already struggling with too much information lock-in. He said the potential exists to dramatically improve healthcare systems by breaking down these silos.

Not only will doing so lead to better outcomes for patients, but it will also help healthcare operators to meet new regulatory requirements. For instance, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Cures Act Final Rule requires that patients can securely access their electronic medical health information to use and share as they please. Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Interoperability and Patient Access Rule similarly requires that health plans that participate in federal exchanges share claims data with patients electronically.

Google Cloud is helping to make this happen, partnering with electronic healthcare record software firm Epic Systems Corp. to allow healthcare organizations to run Epic workloads on its cloud infrastructure. Already, the New Jersey-based healthcare provider Hackensack Meridian Health has announced that it will soon migrate its Epic workloads to Google Cloud in a move that it said will boost innovation, increase efficiencies and strengthen security.

Hackensack Meridian Health’s executive vice president and chief digital information officer Kash Patel said Epic on Google Cloud will make life easier for its information technology teams and developers, and that they’ll be able to uncover more creative ways to improve patient care. “Having everything with Google Cloud will provide a huge opportunity for discoveries,” he said. “For example, data from our AI Avatar for natural language processing will already be in Google Cloud, ready for us to ask questions. This will speed up our work and make information more accessible.”

Similarly, Google Cloud is also partnering with Medical Information Technology Inc. to bring its EHR software to the cloud. That partnership was first announced two years ago, and was followed by the news in March that Google was integrating its search and summarization capabilities into Expanse, Meditech’s web-based EHR platform. Today, Google said DCH Health System and Mile Bluff Medical Center will be the first healthcare providers to pilot the new, integrated system on Google Cloud.

“Too many clinicians are spending too much of their days sifting through electronic health records,” Gupta said. “This partnership should help clinicians more easily surface the data they need, so they can focus on the important work they set out to do: care for patients, not paperwork.”

Healthcare Data Accelerators

In addition to making healthcare data more accessible via the cloud, Google is helping healthcare providers to make more use of that information through its Healthcare Data Engine platform.

To that end, Google announced it has teamed up with Hackensack Meridian Health, Lifepoint Health Inc. and the Mayo Clinic to develop a series of accelerators that have been customized to address specific healthcare needs. When they launch in early 2023, the HDE accelerators will provide tailored infrastructure deployment configurations, together with BigQuery data models and Looker dashboard templates to support adoption and time-to-value of HDE for common industry challenges.

Those challenges include strengthening health equity by overcoming economic, social and other obstacles to healthcare; reinventing operations and experiences for patients who’re increasingly frustrated with navigating appointments and wait times; and improving the quality of care via new, value-based care models.

“Available in early 2023, the HDE accelerators will offer customers a set of tools that can potentially get them between 50% and 70% of the way to data analysis, instead of starting from scratch,” Gupta said. “These accelerators, developed collaboratively with healthcare organizations, will solve a range of industry pain points, and they will unlock the truly transformative power of interoperable longitudinal patient records.”

Patient-Centered Care

Google believes that most people want their healthcare experience to go as smoothly as possible, with the kind of convenience that’s afforded by retail shopping, banking and rideshare services. To meet this demand, Google is joining forces with Highmark Health Inc. on a new, interoperable digital health platform called myHighmark. The platform is said to act like a “digital front door” to a consumer-centric patient experience, with seamless care navigation, simplified bill payment and cost transparency within a single, easy-to-use portal.

“This makes healthcare less fragmented and frustrating to navigate, and simpler for their members to proactively engage in their health,” Gupta promised.

Health Connect enters Beta

In related news, Google announced the launch of a new, health-focused smartphone application called Health Connect, which is now available in the Google Play store. With Health Connect, users are able to manage access to health and fitness data that lives on their device for a range of apps, without compromising on privacy. At launch, more than 10 leading fitness and wellness apps are integrated with Health Connect, including MyFitnessPal, Peloton and Oura. The app essentially lets these apps talk to one another, creating opportunities for developers to build new integrations between their apps. Users will also benefit from having consistent data between the various fitness and wellness apps they use, and centralized privacy controls.

Photo: Google Cloud

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