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

In a blog post, Aashima Gupta, Google Cloud Director of Global Healthcare Solutions, said the industry was already struggling with too much information lockdown. He said it was possible to dramatically improve health systems by breaking down these silos.

Not only will this lead to better patient outcomes, but it will also help healthcare operators meet new regulatory requirements, according to Google. For example, the Office of the National Coordinator’s Final Rule for the Health Information Technology Treatments Act requires patients to be able to securely access their electronic health information to use and share as they see fit. Meanwhile, the Medicare Centers and Medicaid Services Patient Interoperability and Access Rule similarly requires health plans that participate in federal exchanges to share claims data with patients through electronic way.

Google Cloud is helping to achieve this, partnering with electronic medical records software company Epic Systems Corp. to enable healthcare organizations to run Epic workloads on its cloud infrastructure. Already, New Jersey-based healthcare provider Hackensack Meridian Health has announced that it will soon migrate its Epic workloads to Google Cloud as part of an initiative it says will spur innovation, increase efficiency and enhance safety.

Hackensack Meridian Health’s Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Information Officer, Kash Patel, said Epic on Google Cloud would make life easier for its IT teams and developers, and they would be able discover more creative ways to improve patient care. “Having everything with Google Cloud will provide a huge opportunity for discovery,” he said. “For example, our Avatar AI data 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. This partnership was first announced two years ago, and was followed by the news in March that Google was integrating its search and summary 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 spend too much time browsing through electronic health records,” Gupta said. “This partnership should make it easier for clinicians to surface the data they need, so they can focus on the important work they set out to do: patient care, not paperwork.”

Health Data Accelerators

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

To that end, Google announced that it has partnered with Hackensack Meridian Health, Lifepoint Health Inc., and the Mayo Clinic to develop a series of accelerators that have been customized to meet specific health needs. When launched in early 2023, HDE Accelerators will provide bespoke infrastructure deployment configurations, as well as BigQuery data models and Looker dashboard models to support adoption and time to value from HDE for common industry challenges.

These challenges include strengthening health equity by overcoming economic, social and other barriers to health care; reinvent operations and experiences for patients who are increasingly frustrated with navigating appointments and wait times; and improving the quality of care through new value-based models of care.

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

Patient-centered care

Google thinks most people want their healthcare experience to be as smooth as possible, with the kind of convenience that retail, banking, and ride-sharing services provide. To meet this demand, Google is partnering with Highmark Health Inc. on a new interoperable digital health platform called myHighmark. The platform is said to act as a “digital gateway” to a consumer-centric patient experience, with seamless care navigation, simplified bill payment and cost transparency within a single portal and easy to use.

“It makes health care less fragmented and frustrating to navigate, and easier for its members to proactively engage with their health,” Gupta promised.

Health Connect enters beta

In a similar vein, Google announced the launch of a new health-focused smartphone app called Health Connect, which is now available on the Google Play store. With Health Connect, users can manage access to health and fitness data residing on their device for a range of applications, without compromising privacy.

At launch, more than 10 leading fitness and wellness apps are integrated with Health Connect, including MyFitnessPal, Peloton, and Oura. The app essentially allows these apps to talk to each other, creating opportunities for developers to create new integrations between their apps. Users will also benefit from consistent data across the different fitness and wellness apps they use, and centralized privacy controls.

Photo: Google Cloud

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