Google Cloud links up with Pager to expand data interoperability capabilities

Google Cloud has announced yet another partnership aimed at healthcare interoperability—this time with Pager, a virtual care navigation platform.

Google will support Pager’s 23 million members by leveraging its healthcare API, Dialog flow and BigQuery, the tech giant’s data platform. In a press release, the duo said the partnership will aim at eliminating digital fragmentation between consumers and care teams. Google plans to accomplish the feat through the use of its omnichannel digital communications.

"Google provides a data layer that's a single source of truth for payers, providers, employers, pharmacists," Walter Jin, chairman and CEO of Pager, told Fierce Healthcare. "Healthcare interoperability doesn't work right now. We've tried to have the industry work together, and they can't get it done. Payers and providers don't like each other. Google can be that existential stitcher layer for data."

But Jin says data and interoperability are of little use unless they impact the consumer experience. That can best be done with data analytics, he said. Pager takes Google's data insights and brings them to the point of care by smoothing out points of contact. 

Fragmentation, according to Pager, stems from two main sources: the lack of true interoperability and an excess of point solutions. Google Cloud will unite Pager’s various solutions into a singular location for users.

Before the partnership, a patient would first interact with a nurse with support of Pager's omnichannel structure. A nurse would then reiterate the patient's symptoms and history to a provider. The provider would then do the same with a pharmacist. This massive back end communication infrastructure earned the platform it's self-proclaimed nickname: "Slack for healthcare."

Google's data layer will now smooth all those points of communication to save staff time, build staff efficiency and reduce burnout at all steps of a patient's care journey. Including for the patient themselves, Jin said. 

"We spend $4.3 trillion in the US healthcare system and in that there are a lot of unnecessary costs," Jin said. "This is why navigation is so important. This is why patients need the right access to care support. Patients need access to the right care, right place, right time."

Workflow automation will also be customizable while including symptom checkers as well as additional plug-ins like conversational clinical and administrative bots. Patients will see enhanced capabilities with recommended actions used to direct them to appropriate care, the companies said.

"This fragmentation and lack of data integration causes the consumer to ask questions and not get answers," Jin said. "And when consumers don't get answers to health care, they do the wrong thing, take the wrong dosage or don't take the medication at all."

Pager offers patients a variety of solutions including triage, telemedicine, e-prescriptions, appointment scheduling, after-care follow-up and care advocacy. The company’s platform aims to coalesce the communications of nurses, doctors, pharmacists and advocates to streamline care.

By integrating with provider electronic health records, payer systems and vendor services, the tool can be deployed as a standalone app or a buttressing service within providers’ tools.

"Eliminating data fragmentation across the healthcare industry is vital to developing stronger engagement and better care between provider and consumer," said Pallab Deb, head of applications software partnerships at Google Cloud, in a press release. "We are excited to partner with Pager to enhance care experience across the sector."

Pager completed a series C funding round in September 2021 totaling $70 million and topping $133 million total funding at the time. The company said it planned to use the funds for expansion into new markets within the U.S., Latin America and elsewhere. At the time, the company stated that it had seen an 800% increase in average annual consumer encounters over the previous two years.

Pager also recently announced Peter Licursi as its new chief growth officer. Previously, Licursi held various leadership positions at companies such as Entuity and NeXT Software, now the tech giant Apple.

“This is a remarkable opportunity to work at a company leading the way in meeting one of healthcare’s greatest challenges, creating an integrated, holistic care experience for consumers,” said Licursi in a press release. “I’ve been extremely impressed with Pager’s engagement platform that meets consumers with their channel of choice and then provides quick, simple, easy access to a complete set of digital tools and services along with a multidisciplinary care team, without having to download multiple apps.”

Google Cloud unveiled another partnership aimed at interoperability in February. By partnering with health IT company Redox, the Silicon Valley-based behemoth aims to increase data exchange and usage within the electronic health record integration company’s offerings.

This month, Google Health also held its annual The Check Up event where it announced new AI partnerships and reasserted its focus on offering and developing tools for better care.