Google Cloud CEO sees bright future with healthcare partnerships | HLTH Conference

The company announces a new collaboration with Epic to give providers more choices on the cloud, and new accelerators to help health organizations do more with their data.

Las Vegas - Google is moving forward with new partnerships as the tech giant expands its presence in the healthcare industry.

Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud CEO, spoke to healthcare and technology leaders at the HLTH Conference Monday, outlining some of the company’s latest news and talking about how technology is changing the industry.

Google Cloud is working with payers, providers, and pharmaceutical companies. “It’s an ecosystem that needs to deliver the care that people need,” Kurian said.

“Technology is increasingly helping deliver better care for people,” Kurian said.

In a discussion with Tina Reed, healthcare editor for Axios, Kurian said he sees Google Health's role as enabling doctors and health systems to deliver better care.

“We see digital tools as a vehicle to improve accessibility to healthcare to people,” he said.

The company unveiled some of its latest partnerships at the conference Monday, and Hackensack Meridian plays a key role in both of those initiatives.

Google Cloud and Epic, the electronic health records firm, have signed an agreement hailed as the first step in enabling customers to run their Epic workloads on Google Cloud. Hackensack Meridian Health said it plans to move its Epic workloads to Google Cloud, touting gains in efficiency, innovation, and security.

Healthcare organizations will gain more options for cloud environments through the partnership with Epic, Google said.

"Our mission to innovate requires accessible, cutting edge technology," Robert C. Garrett, chief executive officer for Hackensack Meridian Health, said in a statement. "With our Epic EHR on Google Cloud, we'll be able to innovate faster, and benefit from a more efficient and secure cloud environment."

By shifting to the cloud, Kurian said organizations will be able to reduce against threats from human error inside the organization, enabling systems to see if they are running securely. If there’s been an exposure in a certain area, Google’s cloud technology can identify it quickly and that vulnerable area can be locked down, Kurian said.

Google is able to utilize its own experience repelling attacks aimed at its search engine and maps.

“We have every threat actor trying to attack us,” Kurian said.

Google Cloud said it has worked with several partners to develop three “accelerators” for its Healthcare Data Engine (HDE) to address what the company called customer pain points. Google Cloud collaborated with Hackensack Meridian Health, LifePoint Health, and Mayo Clinic, and others to develop the accelerators, the company said.

The accelerators are expected to be available in early 2023, Google Cloud says. The company said they will help healthcare leaders and administrators find the data they need much more easily. The accelerators are focused on three areas: health equity, patient flow and value-based care.

Jessica Beegle, senior vice president and chief innovation officer of Lifepoint Health, said in a statement that Google Cloud’s approach “brings the best of technology and healthcare together to help improve quality, increase access and ensure equitable care for patients no matter where they live.”

"Instead of giving us building blocks that need to be assembled, they are delivering custom-built solutions to help us efficiently tackle key problems in our markets and provide more useful data for our clinical teams to take better care of their patients,” Beegle said.

Google Cloud is continuing to work to help patients find the health information they need, which is proposition that involves more complexity than other searches. For example, if someone goes online to find out the final score of the game, there’s only one answer, Kurian said.

When it comes to healthcare, depending on the patient’s own individual needs, “In many cases, there’s no single answer that’s correct,” Kurian said.

Google technology is also providing clinicians with more precise image technology to help determine if patients are at higher risk for tumor. Emory University researchers have used Google Cloud to identify patients at risk of sepsis after surgery. And Kurian sees Google Cloud in helping understand the parameters of rare and complex diseases.

Even with those advances, Kurian said Google is seeking to help supplement clinicians and not supersede human decision-making.

“We’re not trying to be the ones to provide the care,” Kurian said.

“We are not replacing any human,” Kurian said. “We have always believed technology is meant to assist, not to replace.”