Community Health Systems' Google Cloud platform migration opens the door to generative AI

Community Health Systems has migrated its data systems onto a single Google Cloud data platform that is paving the way for generative AI to help manage complex data and automate administrative tasks, the 71-hospital health system and tech company announced Wednesday morning.

Franklin, Tennessee-based CHS’ new clinical data platform uses the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard, per the announcement. Whereas its prior systems forced staff to access several different sources to compile data, the FHIR-based cloud platform supports interoperability across CHS’ clinical systems while keeping patient data secure.

The partners said “CHS has already improved data transparency across its organization and seen improvements in quality, outcomes and operations” since the migration and noted that the health system can use Google Cloud’s BigQuery data warehouse tool to “generate real-time insights such as bed capacity and other operational metrics.

However, they’re also promising new analysis and automation capabilities for the future built on Vertex AI or other Google Cloud generative AI and large language models.

“The goal of this migration extends well beyond modernizing our data infrastructure,“ Miguel Benet, M.D., senior vice president of clinical operations at CHS, said in the announcement. “By building a secure foundation to take advantage of new innovations in AI, we’re able to streamline our clinical providers’ workflow and advance the way we deliver patient care.”

Google Cloud’s health data platform customers retain control over patient data, which are protected and stored in line with HIPAA compliance standards and a customer organization’s other processes, per the announcement.

CHS is currently “in the process of implementing” the AI and large language models within its organization, they organizations said. Specifically, they listed generative AI deployments that could help improve clinical documentation, automate administrative tasks such as composing denial appeal letters, and send hospital patients out the door with customized and contextualized lists of community resources.

“CHS is at the forefront of harnessing healthcare data to adopt a more impactful and patient-centric approach," Aashima Gupta, global director of healthcare strategy and solutions at Google Cloud, said in the announcement. “From its migration to the cloud, to its implementation of generative AI tools, [CHS] is taking a forward-thinking approach to how it leverages healthcare data.”

CHS runs more than 1,000 sites of care in 40 markets across 15 states. It logged $12.2 billion in net operating revenues and $46 million in net income attributable to stockholders across 2022.

Last summer, the system gave investors the heads-up that it was looking to overhaul technology systems across the enterprise as part of its multiyear “Project Empower” initiative. At the time, it highlighted a move to the Cerner electronic health record system, which it said would work alongside modernization and optimization moves to improve margins.

Google Cloud, meanwhile, has been busy drumming up a handful of generative AI collaborations with healthcare industry partners including HCA Healthcare and Mayo Clinic.