Google announced a slew of new healthcare AI partnerships Tuesday, as well as an open source tool kit for developing digital health tools and new search functionality.
In the AI space, the tech giant said it has been working with the Mayo Clinic for the past three years to research tools for radiotherapy planning during cancer treatment.
The partners focused on developing a model that could automatically outline or contour around organs on CT scans, limiting their exposure to radiation.
“Historically, this has been a very time consuming process requiring over seven hours of manual labor by experts in order to plan a single patient’s treatment,” Greg Corrado, health AI lead at Google, said during a press preview. “[…] After a successful phase of research, we’re really excited to share that we’re enabling Mayo Clinic to bring this jointly developed technology to clinicians in real-world use cases moving forward.”
Google said the partners would now focus on further research, model development and commercialization.
Expanding on its work on using AI to assist with acquiring and interpreting ultrasound images, Google also partnered with Kenya-based maternal and neonatal health nonprofit Jacaranda Health to investigate how AI tools could improve care for pregnant women.
It’s also working with Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan to study using AI-embedded ultrasound to find early signs of breast cancer and partnering with South Africa-based Right to Care to provide AI-backed tuberculosis screenings in Sub-Saharan Africa.
An open source tool kit for digital health apps
In addition to its AI partnerships, Google launched its Open Health Stack, a suite of open source tools intended to help developers create digital health products in under-resourced areas.
Fred Hersch, senior product manager of Open Health Stack, said the suite helps developers build apps that use HL7 FHIR health data sharing standards, so information can be easily accessed by healthcare workers.
“With Open Health Stack components, developers can save time and build better healthcare apps that have a focus on standards, security and advanced analytics. These components have been designed with the specific context of low-resource settings in mind,” he said.
“So, for example, Android FHIR SDK makes it easier to build FHIR-based apps that can operate fully offline. And this is really important in areas that lack reliable connectivity, which is often where the health needs are the greatest.”
The tech giant is also expanding the health information it surfaces in search. It previously added information about Medicare and Medicaid enrollment, and Google said it will now make Medicaid re-enrollment information easier to find, as well as information about community health centers that offer free or low-cost services.
“Millions of people signed up for Medicaid during the pandemic. And at that time, the requirement to re-enroll each year was put on pause. That pause expires on March 31,” said Hema Budaraju, senior director for health and social responsibility at Google Search. “[…] So to help support people during this transition, we will soon make Medicaid re-enrollment information easier to find on search so people can take the right actions where they live. We will have state-specific information to help people across the U.S.”