HLTH23: Google Cloud rolls out new generative AI search tools for doctors, life sciences companies

LAS VEGAS—Google's cloud division unveiled new artificial intelligence-powered search capabilities to help doctors and nurses quickly access patients' clinical notes and other medical information across different data sources.

The new capabilities, part of Google Cloud's Vertex AI Search for healthcare and life sciences organizations, will enable medically-tuned generative AI-powered search on a broad spectrum of data including clinical sources, such as FHIR data, the company announced Monday.

The tech integrates with Google Cloud's Healthcare API and Healthcare Data Engine, as well as with Google Health's search and intelligent summarization capabilities from its pilot product called Care Studio. Google Cloud customers can sign up now for early access to Vertex AI Search features for healthcare and life sciences, the company said.

Google is leveraging its tech expertise to rapidly bring AI and cloud capabilities to healthcare, seeing opportunities to use tech to help address issues like workforce shortages, provider burnout and administrative burden.

It can be challenging and time-consuming for clinicians to find the right information about patients as medical information is stored across multiple systems and in different formats. Google claims that its AI-powered search tool will help providers to find accurate clinical information more efficiently—all in one place—and ask questions about the patient record, according to the company.

Administrative costs in 2022 increased by $18 billion, a 30% increase in just one year, to reach $60 billion annually (CAQH). Additionally, within the next five years, the United States faces a projected shortage of more than 3.2 million frontline healthcare workers, such as medical assistants, home health aides, and nursing assistants, according to Mercer data.

Vertex AI Search features for healthcare and life science companies will help alleviate some of the administrative burdens and serve as an assistive technology to clinicians and other healthcare workers, the company said.

"Bringing Google-quality, gen AI search capabilities across an organization's entire ecosystem, including EHRs, has the potential to dramatically improve efficiencies, provide clinical decision support, and increase the quality of care clinicians can give patients," said Burak Gokturk, VP and general manager, Cloud AI and Industry Solutions for Google Cloud in a statement. "Making Vertex AI Search more useful for healthcare and life science organizations is a priority for us because we know that having the right information and insights at the right time can make all the difference in health."

The new features build on Vertex AI Search's current ability to easily set up question-answering and conversational search applications powered by foundation models, including the ability to ground outputs of gen AI to the enterprise's data.

Google Cloud's customers retain control over their data, the company said. In healthcare settings, access and use of patient data is protected through the implementation of Google Cloud's infrastructure and secure data storage that support HIPAA compliance, along with each customer's security, privacy controls and processes. In addition, Vertex AI Search, Healthcare Data Engine, and Healthcare API support HIPAA compliance as does its Vertex AI Search features for healthcare and life science companies.

"Healthcare is a data-intensive industry with majority of the medical knowledge locked up in unstructured documents and text," said Vish Anantraman, chief technology officer for Mayo Clinic. "New search functionality from Vertex AI provides Mayo Clinic new capabilities to use data to support a wide range of applications."

Google Cloud is working with several healthcare organizations to scale up AI and cloud-based technologies. Hackensack Meridian Health is in the process of migrating Epic workloads to Google Cloud and is teaming up with the tech giant to modernize its data and cloud infrastructure.

"Now that we've moved our significant data, applications workload and other IT resources from on-premises to Google Cloud, using gen AI for search over our enterprise data has the potential to dramatically improve the information and insights we can deliver to our clinicians and our other team members," said Kash Patel, EVP and chief digital information officer for Hackensack Meridian Health in a statement. "Data is at the core of how we are modernizing healthcare, and Vertex AI Search for healthcare and life sciences will help us make the most of our data."

EHR platform Meditech also is integrating Google's generative AI capabilities into its system.

"We're already embedding Google Health's search and summarization capabilities into our Expanse EHR and have delivered that solution to a customer; work we are collectively very proud of. We will be exploring next how the broader capability with Vertex AI Search can further empower providers and patients," said Helen Waters, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Meditech in a statement. "Beyond simply synthesizing information, these capabilities can organize and surface the most important information to help overburdened care teams in their workflow."

As the AI arms race heats up, Google Cloud also is making rapid advances with its Med-PaLM 2 technology, a medically-tuned large language model.

The tech giant announced in April that its large language model Med-PaLM 2 will be available to a select group of Google Cloud customers to explore uses and report feedback. Med-PaLM 2 was the first LLM model to reach an “expert” level on the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination-style questions, reaching over 85% accuracy.

While Med-PaLM 2 is an expert in complex medical topics, Vertex AI Search features for healthcare and life sciences will deliver medically-tuned search capabilities grounded in the patient record, the tech giant said. When combined, healthcare organizations can find the most relevant answers to complex medical questions both from world knowledge as well as within the patient's medical record.