Google locks in health data deal with major health system HCA Healthcare

Google is teaming up with Tennessee-based health system HCA Healthcare to help it consolidate and store digital health records and develop algorithms to improve operational efficiency, patient monitoring, and clinical decision-making.

This marks yet another major Google expansion into the healthcare provider space—which will be key for its electronic health record (EHR) endeavors to stick:

  • In the last six months, Google Health has turbocharged its innovation in AI tools, clinical research, and EHRs. In February, it introduced CareStudio—its very own EHR-agnostic data navigation tool that organizes medical records and creates a comprehensive view of a patient’s health profile. Before that, it inked multiple deals with healthcare provider organizations like Highmark Health, Hologic, and the Mayo Clinic to develop AI-driven algorithms for improving personalized health initiatives, medical imaging, and cancer diagnostics.
  • And while Google has partnered with healthcare provider organizations before, they’ve never been at this scale. HCA has over 2,000 care sites across 21 states, and is responsible for around 5% of all US hospital services annually, according to HCA’s Annual Impact report.
  • Now that Google is gaining access to HCA’s heaps of patient data, it’ll be able to improve its AI-driven tech and strengthen its grip in the EHR space. In 2020, HCA Healthcare had over 32 million patient encounters—a lot of real-world data Google can leverage to train its AI models and hone its healthcare products to perform even better. That’s also good news for its nascent EHR platform CareStudio, which can carve out its seat in the EHR market by potentially having thousands of new providers and consumers using it—it seems a natural next step in the duo’s current tie-up will be to involve CareStudio.

Big Tech cos are infiltrating healthcare from every end—and though they have the potential to unify and improve healthcare workflows and outcomes, they’ll have to place a premium on data privacy to be successful.

  • Big Tech cos like Apple and Google are eyeing EHRs and healthcare interoperability. They recognize the opportunity for their existing consumer footprint in the smartphones (iPhones and Androids) and wearables (Apple Watch and Fitbit) market to help inform patient health profiles, especially as healthcare becomes more digitized.
  • However, privacy concerns persist as a constant struggle. Only around 10% of US consumers say they would be willing to hand off health info to a tech firm, for instance. And earlier this month, Google was slammed with a lawsuit alleging it put millions of users’ personal health information at risk via the COVID-19 contact tracing tool it developed with Apple.
  • If there’s one takeaway we know, it’s that tech giants will have to heighten their privacy and security standards to overcome public distrust and secure a foothold in healthcare: Both Apple and Google have recently launched privacy campaigns and features to address this.