Google is releasing a powerful technology that can easily make it possible for patients to access their own health information through third-party applications. This could prompt health care systems from various nations to adopt the technology which is called the Google Healthcare API which if government mandates them will make it much easier for patients to see and use their health data.
Meanwhile trust issues with Google being one of the largest corporation that makes most of its profits from advertisements based on using it’s users’ data for targeted ads might just ruin the new innovation before it even go public. Google is currently the third largest cloud tech provider, behind Amazon and Microsoft.
‘Two years to comply’
New healthcare systems can be created using the Google Healthcare API which will translate and convert data stored in different types of systems directly from imaging systems to medical records software even though the documentation says that the Healthcare API is meant for “Storing and accessing healthcare data in Google cloud which would serve as a bridge between existing healthcare systems and applications hosted on Google Cloud.” And the search engine giant said that customers aren’t required to store the data in Google Cloud.
Google’s rival Microsoft Azure also has a similar health care API, which is designed to help its health care customers connect to sources, like electronic health records.
There s an increase in the requirement of healthcare companies to share health information with their patients as well as health applications they use. The US department if Health and Human Services released a set of rules earlier on this year which will prevent health companies from so-called “information blocking” which is a practice that’s been on-going for a long period of time which makes it hard for people to access their own medical information at the hospital or doctors’ offices.
Some health systems tell patients they’ll have to pay for their records, or that the information would only available via a printed PDF or CD-Rom.
“Hospitals and vendors have two years to comply with new rules,” noted Aneesh Chopra, the first chief technology officer of the White House and the president of Care Journey, a health analytics company, in an interview with CNBC.
“This could help them move faster, and it should increase the marketplace of applications that are physician facing, patient facing and potentially health plan facing, so individuals can get their health information that would have been locked up.”
There have even been documentation challenges for patients in sharing information between hospitals especially with those that rely on different vendors.
Google Cloud, in a blog post written by Joe Corkery, a doctor and its director of product, and Aashima Gupta, its director of health solutions, notes that it can be a “Herculean effort” for health systems to access a unified view of data from various sources.
The current state of the Coronavirus pandemic had showed why people’s health data is very important according to the Google Cloud’s healthcare leaders. And with this kind of system in place, it can help to enhance other applications and devices on the way such as that of the CDC which is targeted at sharing information from electronic health records with public health departments and will launch by May.
“Covid-19 is really bringing the entire (health data) interoperability conversation to the forefront,” said Gupta, via a virtual call. “It’s becoming really crucial from a patient standpoint.”
“People are now recognizing that there’s only way to get though this period and that is to collaborate,” added John Halamka, president of Mayo Clinic Platform. Mayo Clinic is aother major cloud customer for Google, which has a team of people working nearby out of Rochester, Minnesota. “What’s important is that this API is a toolset provided by Google that makes it easier for the doctors and the hospitals to share data. But it’s not about sending the data to Google.”
But with the new technology would come regulations from the government which can further enhance the safety of this data as well as preventing Google itself from using people’s personal health data for targeted ads.