Google Talks Up Cloud Healthcare API, Partnerships at HIMSS Conference

Google is highlighting its recent efforts in the health care sector on the cloud platform during the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's conference in Las Vegas.

health care IT

Google is using the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's (HIMSS) conference in Las Vegas this week to showcase its new Cloud Healthcare API and other recent developments in the health care sector.

Among those developments is a new partnership as well as some security and compliance updates. 

Health care is increasingly moving towards the cloud and Google's goal is to help organizations in the sector better organize their information so it is easier to access and to manage, said Gregory Moore, vice president of healthcare Google Cloud. "Applying this mission to healthcare means using open standards to help enable data sharing and interactive collaboration, while also providing a secure platform," he said.

Google's Cloud Healthcare API is one example. The API is designed to address the challenges health care organizations face in centralizing and managing different health data types such as clinical and administrative data, electronic health data and imaging data like X-Rays. The cloud API gives health care entities a way to organize the data better and use it for analytics and machine learning purposes in the cloud. 

Such analysis could enable new insights from the data and result in potentially significant clinical improvements for patients, Moore said. The API is now available in limited fashion and organizations including the Stanford School of Medicine have been using it to improve data interoperability. Google will roll out the API more broadly over the coming year, he added. 

In releasing the new Cloud Healthcare API Google is continuing its history of supporting open interoperability standards on Google cloud, Moore noted. As examples, he pointed to the company's Cloud Genomics API for uploading, processing, querying, and searching genomics data in the cloud and to Apigee, a platform for managing Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources APIs on top of electronic health records systems. 

In addition to the new API, Google this week also announced that its Google App Engine services are now covered under Google's App Engine service Business Associate Agreement (BAA). What that means is that health care organizations using Google App Engine can now build web and mobile applications without having to worry about managing the security of the underlying infrastructure to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. 

Just like many other Google cloud platform services App Engine too now offers multiple security capabilities for secure handling of health care data. This includes encryption by default for data at rest and in transit, data loss prevention tools and trusted server boot said Rohit Talreja and Joe Corkery, two members of Google's Healthcare and Life Sciences Compliance group. 

The addition of App Engine to the list of Google cloud services covered by BAA reinforces the company's commitment to ensuring its systems, facilities, and operations have auditable security controls, they noted. 

Moore also pointed to several partners that Google is currently working with to broaden its capabilities in the health care sector. One example is Flex, a managed services provider that is working with Google to deliver customizable analytics dashboards. Other vendors that Google is partnering with include Imagia for disease characterization, progression and response related applications and Kanteron Systems a provider of genomics apps. 

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.