Author Archives: Paul Muret

Extending Care Studio with a new healthcare partnership

Today at the HIMSS Conference in Orlando, Florida, we’re introducing a collaboration between Google Health and MEDITECH to jointly work on an integrated clinical solution. This partnership aims to combine our data harmonization, search and summarization capabilities from Google Health’s Care Studio product suite and integrate them into their electronic health record (EHR), MEDITECH Expanse.

Health information is complex — it’s often siloed or stored across different information systems and in different formats. As a result, it can be challenging for clinicians to find the information they need all in one place and quickly make sense of it to care for their patients.

Google Health’s Care Studio technology is designed to make it easier for clinicians to find critical patient information when they need it most. Built to adhere to strict privacy controls, Care Studio works alongside electronic health records (EHRs) to enhance existing workflows. Since we launched Care Studio, we’ve continued to hone our search capabilities for medical data, notes and scanned documents, and are using AI to help make sense of clinical information. We recently introduced our Conditions feature which summarizes a patient’s conditions and uses natural language processing to link to related information — like medications or lab results — so clinicians have the context they need to understand and assess a condition.

We’re proud of what we built with Care Studio thus far, and we know that partnering is fundamental to improving health outcomes at scale — no one product or company can overcome these obstacles alone.

Collaboration with the healthcare industry

MEDITECH has made significant commitments to advancing interoperability — a commitment we share. To best support clinicians, we need to fit into the way they work now. Collaborations with EHRs, like MEDITECH, will help us seamlessly integrate Google Health tools into existing clinical workflows, so we can help remove friction for clinicians.

With MEDITECH, we’re working on a deeply integrated solution to bring some of our data harmonization, search and summarization capabilities to their web-based EHR, MEDITECH Expanse. Using Google Health’s tools, MEDITECH will form a longitudinal health data layer, bringing together data from different sources into a standard format and offering clinicians a full view of patient records. And with Google Health’s search functionality embedded into their EHR, clinicians can find salient information faster for a more frictionless experience, and the intelligent summarization can highlight critical information directly in the Expanse workflow. This will help advance healthcare data interoperability, building on MEDITECH’s vision for a more connected ecosystem. Our collaboration expands on the partnership between MEDITECH and Google Cloud and will utilize Google Cloud’s infrastructure.

The healthcare industry is at an inflection point when it comes to interoperability. As COVID accelerated the need for interoperable systems, more organizations were eager to embrace Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) as the standard format for healthcare data. We’re using FHIR to support our data harmonization, yet there is more to be done before FHIR is widely adopted and systems can effectively exchange information. We’re hopeful that collaborative approaches, much like what we’re working on with MEDITECH, will help create more interoperable solutions and facilitate an open ecosystem of data interoperability that benefits everyone.

Upholding our privacy commitments

As we deepen our partnerships across the healthcare industry, privacy and security remain our top priorities. As with all our Google Health Care Studio partners, Google does not own or ever sell patient data, and patient data cannot be used for advertising. Our tools are designed to adhere to industry best practices and regulations, including HIPAA. Patient data is encrypted and isolated in a controlled access environment, separate from other Google customer data and consumer data.

Industry collaboration is a critical path to overcoming pervasive data fragmentation challenges. While we’re in the early stages with MEDITECH, this new collaboration marks an exciting step forward in creating a more open healthcare ecosystem and improving health outcomes.

Join us at HIMSS at 3:00 p.m. EST today, in room WF3 to learn more.

Take a look at Conditions, our new feature in Care Studio

At Google Health, we’re always thinking about how we can make our tools most useful for clinicians. This includes Care Studio, our clinical software that harmonizes healthcare data from different sources to give clinicians a comprehensive view of a patient’s records.

Today, at the ViVE Conference in Miami Beach, we previewed Conditions, a new Care Studio feature that helps clinicians make even better sense of patient records.

Instant insights for clinicians

Getting a holistic summary of a patient's medical history can be challenging as key clinical insights are often buried in unstructured notes and data silos. With Conditions, we use our deep understanding of data to provide a quick and concise summary of a patient’s medical conditions along with critical context from clinical notes. Conditions are organized by acuity, so a clinician can quickly determine if a patient’s condition is acute or chronic.

We also provide easy access to information related to a condition — including labs, medications, reports, specialist notes and more — to help clinicians manage and treat a condition. So if a clinician clicks on a condition, like diabetes, they may see blood sugar levels, insulin administrations, endocrinology consult notes and retinopathy screening studies. And if critical information is missing, we will highlight its absence from the chart. For example, we’d flag if standard labs for a patient with diabetes are missing, like hemoglobin A1c results. With these resources, a clinician can quickly understand a new patient’s medical history or easily review an existing patient’s insulin regimen before their appointment.

Bringing natural language processing to medical data

Healthcare data is structured in numerous ways, making it difficult to organize. Clinical notes may be written differently and stored across different systems. Clinician notes also differ based on if content is meant for clinical decision making, billing or regulatory uses. Further, when it comes to writing notes, clinicians use different abbreviations or acronyms depending on their personal preference, what health system they’re a part of, their region and other factors. All of this has made it difficult to synthesize clinical data — until now.

The Conditions feature works by algorithmically understanding medical concepts from notes that may be written in incomplete sentences, shorthand or with misspelled words. We use Google’s advances in AI in an area called natural language processing (NLP) to understand the actual context in which a condition is mentioned and map these concepts to a vocabulary of tens of thousands of medical conditions. For example: One clinician might write “multiple sclerosis exacerbation” while another might document the same problem as “MS flare”. Care Studio is able to recognize that these different terms are linked to the same condition, and supported by the same evidence.

Similarly, Care Studio understands that the statement “Patient has a history of dm”, means that diabetes mellitus (dm) is present. And for the statement “Pneumonia is not likely at this time”, pneumonia is absent.

Care Studio then ranks each condition to determine its importance using various factors — such as the condition itself, its frequency, recency and more — to elevate the most important conditions to the top. Finally, based on input from medical specialists and clinicians on the Google team, Care Studio organizes conditions to support clinical thinking and decision making. For instance, acute conditions are highlighted, and related conditions are presented next to each other.

Healthcare data is complex, and clinicians often have to manually sift through information to make sense of a patient’s conditions. We’re excited to bring this feature to clinicians in the coming months so they can instantly access the information they need all in one place to provide better care.

Our Care Studio pilot is expanding to more clinicians

Healthcare professionals are healers, not data clerks. Yet many clinicians spend half their day on a computer navigating electronic health records (EHRs) and other systems. Because health records are often scattered across multiple systems, getting a full picture of a patient’s health requires a great deal of clinicians’ time, energy, and resources. These gaps in patient information can contribute to less effective and efficient care. The Google Health team started to think about how we could bring Google’s experience in organizing complex information to healthcare.

Driven by this idea, we created Care Studio, a software solution that provides a comprehensive view of a patient’s records and allows clinicians to quickly search through complex patient information. Care Studio is built for clinicians and works alongside EHR systems; it streamlines workflows and supports more proactive care. We’ve been working with the healthcare organization Ascension on a pilot of Care Studio focused on data quality and product safety with a small group of clinicians based in Nashville, TN and Jacksonville, FL. The pilot is now expanding to more physicians and nurses in the clinical setting.

How Care Studio supports clinicians 

Care Studio streamlines key clinician workflows so that teams can quickly get the information they need to care for patients. It brings together patient records from the multiple EHRs an organization uses – giving clinicians a centralized view of patient data and the ability to search across these records.

We’ve honed our search capabilities based on medical terminology and clinical shorthand, so that clinicians can simply type what they're looking for into a search bar and instantly surface relevant patient record information. Still, a patient’s history can be long and complex, making important details difficult to find. Care Studio uses Google technology to display relevant information in fewer clicks. For example, Care Studio can automatically organize the medications in a patient’s history with information on dosing and when they were prescribed. The tool also makes it easy to find pertinent information, including lab results, procedure orders, medication orders and progress notes. 

Care Studio harmonizes medical data across different systems. For example, even though health systems report measurements like blood pressure or glucose levels using different units, Care Studio automatically converts them so they are easier for a clinician to understand and compare.

Animated GIF showing various tabs in Care Studio.

Search using clinical shorthand or everyday language. All data shown is synthetic (realistic but not real) patient data.

Keeping health information private and secure 

We know healthcare data is sensitive and personal, and it’s our responsibility to keep it private and secure. Google does not own, nor do we ever sell, patient data. This data from Care Studio cannot be used for advertising. Our team designed Care Studio to adhere to industry best practices and regulations, including HIPAA. 

We implement administrative, technical and physical safeguards to protect information. Patient data is encrypted and isolated in a controlled environment, separate from other customer data and consumer data. Consistent with industry best practices, we also participate in regular audits and external certifications such as ISO 27001 and SOC2/3, where auditors validate Care Studio’s processes for safeguarding customer data. With these certifications, third-party specialists make sure we follow a framework of controls for a comprehensive and continually evolving model for managing security.

Taking our next step toward clinical impact 

Based on feedback from Ascension, we've fine tuned Care Studio so it displays relevant clinical information from their systems accurately and in a way that's useful to their physicians and nurses. Now we’re ready to expand our pilot in the clinical setting to further optimize the product for broader usage at Ascension. A select group of clinicians at facilities in Nashville, TN and Jacksonville, FL will use an early release of Care Studio alongside their existing tools during care delivery. We hope to get their feedback to further improve its usability, make the tool more useful to them and better integrate into current workflows. 

Our aim is to bring Google’s experience in organizing complex information into intuitive, useful formats for the healthcare industry. As more Ascension clinicians begin using Care Studio, we look forward to supporting them in caring for their patients.