Google Cloud Healthcare API focused on interoperability, during pandemic and beyond

The standard, in use at the Mayo Clinic since 2019, can help providers manage their COVID-19 response and comply with CMS and ONC data-exchange regulations, the company says.
By Nathan Eddy
12:35 PM

Google on Monday announced the launch of Google Cloud Healthcare API, which is designed to enable standardized data exchange between healthcare applications and solutions built on Google Cloud.

WHY IT MATTERS

Backed by Google Cloud's privacy and security features, and HIPAA compliant, the API offers pre-built connectors for streaming data processing in Dataflow, scalable analytics with BigQuery and machine learning with AI Platform.

The platform also provides support for healthcare data standards, including HL7, FHIR, HL7 v2 and DICOM, as well as automated DICOM and FHIR de-identification to better prepare data for these platforms.

The goal is to provide healthcare and life sciences organizations with scalable, real-time data analytics during the pandemic, using tools like machine learning and giving providers the ability to interact with data using web-friendly, REST-based endpoints.

In an effort to address data-privacy concerns, Cloud Healthcare API detects sensitive data in DICOM instances and FHIR resources, such as protected health information, then uses a de-identification transformation to mask, delete or otherwise obscure the data.

The Mayo Clinic has been using Google's Healthcare API to enable the storage and interoperability of its clinical data since the launch of a partnership in 2019.

Google hopes Cloud Healthcare API can help healthcare organizations more easily manage complicated and siloed systems within their care environments, while simultaneously supporting increased interoperability and better patient access.

THE LARGER TREND

Beyond the Cloud Healthcare API, Google has deployed a range of solutions to support healthcare providers in the fight against COVID-19, including virtual care and telehealth services and visualization of essential services through its Maps platform.

Google is also deploying machine-learning technology to track more than 240 million COVID-related daily spam messages, which use a mix of fear and financial incentives to create sense of urgency that prompts users to respond.

The company is among the many consumer tech giants lending their knowledge to help healthcare organizations deal with the global outbreak.

These include Microsoft, which recently made its AccountGuard cybersecurity program available to hospitals, clinics, labs, frontline providers, device manufacturers and life sciences companies researching treatments. And Amazon has also stepped up to help battle the global COVID-19 pandemic through the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, which aims to accelerate COVID-19 diagnostics, research and testing.

More broadly, Google says the new API will offer another means to help providers comply with the mandates of the data exchange and patient access rules put forth earlier this year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

ON THE RECORD

"We're in a time where technology needs to work fast, securely, and most importantly in a way that furthers our dedication to our patients," said Dr. John Halamka, president of Mayo Clinic Platform, in a statement. "Google Cloud's Healthcare API accelerates data liquidity among stakeholders, and in return, will help us better serve our patients."

"Healthcare providers’ access to real-time, unified healthcare data is critical – and every second matters," said Dr. Joe Corkery, director of product, healthcare and life sciences at Google Cloud, and Aashima Gupta, the company's director of industry solutions for healthcare and life sciences, in a blog post.

"As the industry is pushed to its limits in light of COVID-19, the need for increased data interoperability is more important than ever," they added. "In the last few months, the industry has laid the foundation for progress with final rules issued by CMS and ONC, implementing key provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. Today, healthcare organizations are in dire need of easy-to-use technology that supports health information exchange."

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209