Google has announced the creation of a new application programming interface based on the Cloud and designed to solve interoperability issues in the health sector.
Google is launching the Cloud Healthcare API (Application Programming Interface), which collects data from electronic health files and "other proprietary data" via DICOM, FHIR and HL7 protocols, explained Eric Schmidt, technical adviser and former executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet.
The primary aim is to be able to exploit the data flow coming from artificial intelligence and machine-learning to improve the efficiency of health care, according to Health Data Management.
Predictive algorithms to help doctors
"Predictive analysis will enable the medical profession to react more quickly," said Schmidt during his opening address at HIMSS18 (the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) in Las Vegas. "According to doctors working for our company, if the predictive algorithms work, it will be possible to forecast results between 18 and 24 hours earlier than with any other observation system."
The Cloud Healthcare API is currently available as a test version for a restricted number of clients and partners, among them the Stanford School of Medicine, but Google is already set to make it more widely accessible as of next year.
Interoperability a crucial issue for health and research
Somalee Datta, head of the IT and research department at the Stanford School of Medicine, explained in a press release that in IT terms, open (i.e. non-proprietary) standards are of crucial importance for interoperability in the health sector. This is also the case in biomedical research.
Stanford has been using the Google Cloud Genomics API for a while already and is delighted that Google is adding to the Cloud with the new Cloud Healthcare API, saying that "the possibility of combining interoperability with the evolutive analysis of Google Cloud is going to have a decisive impact for our research community". If this challenge is indeed met, the number of lives that it could save is at the moment incalculable, since the extent of this technological process is so immense according to Schmidt.
Culmination of a long-term project for Google
Google saw the potential of the health sector at an early juncture, says Robert Wachter, Chair of the department of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. He was a member of Google’s healthcare advisory board in 2007, and recalls the company already being very ambitious in that sector, saying that Google was intending to revolutionise the healthcare sector before having to re-evaluate due to the complexity of what was at stake.
Despite this initial setback, Wachter believes that the group is now ready to meet the challenge, saying: "Google tried to handle medical files in electronic form at the time and that was simply too complicated. All the data is digital now."
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