UPDATED 00:12 EDT / MARCH 06 2018


Google Cloud targets the healthcare sector with new services and partnerships

Google LLC on Monday announced the availability of several new products and services for healthcare providers that it hopes can entice them to use its public cloud platform.

The new tools include a new Cloud Healthcare application programming interface. The company also announced that more of its cloud products are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA, in addition to a number of new partnerships around healthcare.

Research from International Data Corp. suggests that cloud computing and other technologies such as artificial intelligence and the “internet of things” are likely to be warmly embraced by the healthcare sector in coming years. As such, Google’s ambitions in the sector are “very much a reflection of its overall mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” Greg Moore, vice president of healthcare for Google Cloud, wrote in a blog post.

To that end, Google’s new Cloud Healthcare API is designed to help healthcare providers manage and organize a range of data types and make it available for things such as machine learning and analytics. Currently available as an early-access release, the API will be rolled out to more users later this year.

In addition to the API, Google said its App Engine and Cloud Machine Learning Engine services are both now compliant with HIPAA. That means more than two dozen of its cloud services are now compliant with the standard.

Google also announced it’s teaming up with a supply chain company called Flex Ltd. to provide “analytics dashboards” that provide AI and machine learning capabilities. Flex offers a managed services platform for healthcare firms called BrightInsight that can support medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Google is collaborating with a Spanish precision medicine company called Kanteron Systems S.L.U. as well. The company is using Google Cloud Platform to offer telegenomics services, which relates to the analysis of genomic information for diagnosis, to its customers.

Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, said Google’s push into healthcare is encouraging on the one hand because record-keeping in the industry “is a mess and is costing lives because avoidable mistakes are being made” all too often, thanks to a combination of cumbersome privacy laws and legacy computer systems. However, he cast doubt on Google’s ability to deliver, because doing so would mean that consumers and providers have to trust it to look after their medical records.

“Given that they make much of their money from selling information, I have doubts whether they can be trusted enough to pull this off,” Enderle said. “But done right, this could both lower healthcare costs and raise efficiency dramatically.”

Image: Google

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