- Google is embedding its search and summarization tools within a health record maintained by EHR vendor Meditech, a major player in the hospital software space, in a move that should significantly expand the tech giant's healthcare reach.
- The partnership, announced Tuesday at HIMSS' annual healthcare conference, will embed some of Google's clinical tools from its Care Studio product suite within Meditech's web-based Expanse EHR. The goal is to give doctors a comprehensive, longitudinal view of patient's data within their workflows, by pulling and organizing information from different systems.
- Google and Meditech have already exchanged some data in the new partnership, but will start work on directly integrating Google's tools in Expanse within the next 90 days, and are targeting to have the functionality operational for some hospital clients within six to nine months, Helen Waters, Meditech Expanse EVP and COO, told Healthcare Dive at HIMSS.
Health data is often siloed in disparate systems, which is a huge problem in efforts to find and make sense of patient information, a nationwide health IT sticking point that was thrown into stark detail in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. That fragmented view can contribute to care delays, uncoordinated care and poorer clinical decisionmaking.
Google created Care Studio last year to bring together records from across systems, harmonize the data and make it simpler for clinicians to find patient information when they need it. The product suite results in a "super high quality" view of the patient, that includes data sitting within the EHR and what's coming in through faxes and other unstructured streams, Paul Muret, general manager of Google for Clinicians, said at HIMSS on Tuesday.
Care Studio introduced a new Conditions feature earlier this month. The tool summarizes a patient's conditions and uses natural language processing to link to related information — like medications or lab results — to try to get clinicians more context, spitting out a summarized list of all patient conditions, family history, relevant test results and more.
Embedding Google's clinical software tools in Meditech's EHR will bring data together from different sources into a standard format and enable clinicians to find information faster using Google Health's search functionality, Google and Meditech executives said.
"The clinician can simply type in what they're looking for ... And see all the relevant information within the record that has to do with that topic," Muret said.
The result is a more holistic, longitudinal view of the patient for a clinician to act on, while advancing interoperable data exchange. It should also set Meditech up for a more modern EHR, and helps the company move forward into new areas like precision medicine and genomics, according to Waters.
It's early days for the partnership, which has been forming over the past few months. Google and Meditech still have to iron out the technical details, run pilots and undergo next steps to ensure the integration is safe and valuable for clinicians, Muret said.
But, "our confidence level is high based on what we've seen so far," Waters said. Meditech and Google don't have a specific timeline for when the products will be stood up in the EHR for Meditech's clients, but Waters said, "we want to be aggressive" and are targeting having Google's clinical tools operational for Expanse hosptials within the next six to nine months.
At that point, Care Studio will be available within the workflow, and say "powered by Google" within the EHR.
It's likely the first of many EHR collaborations for Google Health tools, as the California-based search giant looks to integrate deeper into existing clinical workflows. The partnership is an expansion of the IT deal Meditech and Google Cloud inked in late 2019 that made its EHR Expanse one of the first records available through Google's cloud platform.
Meditech is a big fish for Google, as it has the third-highest market share in U.S. hospitals at 16%, according to KLAS, trailing Epic and Cerner.
Tech companies interested in healthcare appear to be increasing, realizing it may be a better idea to partner in the highly entrenched and regulated space to make inroads, instead of going at it alone.
"We have an opportunity to impact millions and millions of lives around the world and no one company can do it by itself," Muret said. "At the end of the day, we're all on the same team."
The announcement may raise some eyebrows, Google's past forays into the provider data space sparked significant criticism, after it came out in 2019 that Google was developing new product lines using the data of millions of Americans treated by nonprofit system Ascension without their knowledge or consent. That partnership eventually resulted in Care Studio.
Google stressed that it does not own or sell patient data, and will not use patient data for advertising in the Meditech deal.