HIMSS 2022: Google Health announces Meditech as the first EHR vendor to integrate with Care Studio

ORLANDO, Florida—Just a week after pulling back the curtain on new natural language processing features for Care Studio, its clinician-facing patient record interface, at the ViVE conference in Miami, Google Health took to HIMSS 2022 to announce the technology's first-ever integration with an electronic health record vendor.

In a blog post, the tech giant wrote that it has entered into a collaboration with Meditech to develop “a deeply integrated solution” that marries the search, contextualization and data harmonization capabilities of Google Health’s Care Studio with Meditech Expanse, the vendor’s web-based EHR platform.

“Using Google Health’s tools, Meditech will form a longitudinal health data layer, bringing together data from different sources into a standard format and offering clinicians a full view of patient records,” Google Health wrote in the to-be-published blog post. “And with Google Health’s search functionality embedded into their EHR, clinicians can find salient information faster for a more frictionless experience and the intelligent summarization can highlight critical information directly in the Expanse workflow.”

Google wrote that the collaboration was still in its “early stages” and will be built on Google Cloud infrastructure, which Meditech has leaned on for web services since 2019. 

In a statement, Meditech Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Helen Waters said the new deal "is the first step in a long-term collaboration" between the companies. 

"Too much data can overburden clinicians, which is why we design our own solution with personalized views of the most important information clinicians want to see," Waters said. "Our partnership with Google Health builds upon this mission, providing us with a unique opportunity to combine our expertise to better solve the information burden our customers face."

Much like Google Health's other Care Studio partnerships with providers, any patient data from Meditech it accesses will be encrypted, isolated in a controlled access environment and remain separate from other consumer and customer data that are sold or used for advertising, the tech company pledged in its post.

Rather, Google Health said it sees the collaboration between Meditech’s EHR and its patient data harmonization tools as another step forward for the industry in regard to interoperability.

“We’re using [Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)] to support our data harmonization, yet there is more to be done before FHIR is widely adopted and systems can effectively exchange information,” Google Health wrote. “We’re hopeful that collaborative approaches, much like what we’re working on with Meditech, will help create more interoperable solutions and facilitate an open ecosystem of data interoperability that benefits everyone.”

A representative of Google Health told Fierce Healthcare the integration is another opportunity to inject the pre-commercial Care Studio into clinicians’ workflows and explore how it can be tweaked to better streamline their work.  

Meditech has 2,250 customers across 23 countries and currently claims about 23% of the EHR market share, the Google Health representative told Fierce Healthcare. Still, the tech giant does not expect this integration to reach all those customers in the short term, they said.

“We at Google Health want to partner, and definitely understand that partnership is critical to overcoming the fragmentation challenges most people in healthcare face,” the representative told Fierce Healthcare. “I do think there’s an opportunity for us to work with other EHR vendors in a similar way.”

To date, Google has publicly developed and piloted its clinical software exclusively with provider partners like Ascension and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center—and even then faced criticisms from those concerned about the risks to patient data privacy.

With the Conditions feature demoed last week at ViVE, Google Health outlined how its software can use natural language processing to surface relevant patient information and potential conditions based on the information from patients' medications, labs, visits and notes.

Here, the company touted its ability to recognize medical concepts that could be misspelled or written in shorthand—for instance, “multiple sclerosis exacerbation” or “MS flare.” Care Studio can also flag if certain relevant information is missing from a patient’s records and will organize its recommendations by acuity so clinicians can quickly determine whether their condition is acute or chronic.