Alphabet's Verily, Mayo Clinic team up on decision support tech for cardiovascular care

Alphabet's Verily continues to push further into clinical care and is using its tech muscle to build advanced decision support tools for providers.

The two organizations struck a strategic two-year collaboration focused on the development of a digital point-of-care resource to support an individualized approach to patient care. The tool will provide contextualized and validated insight on disease management, care guidelines and treatment to help clinicians make decisions, the organizations said.

Teaming up with the Mayo Clinic, Verily will pull in the hospital's clinical content and apply advanced clinical analytics and user-centered design to deliver care insights that are integrated into the healthcare provider workflow, the companies announced Thursday.

Initially, the organizations will focus on a set of cardiovascular and cardiometabolic conditions, with the aim to help guide clinicians toward the highest-quality care. 

"We hope it can be used as a GPS for patient care," said Bradley Leibovich, M.D., medical director of the Mayo Clinic's Center for Digital Health, in a statement.

"The exponential growth in medical discovery and knowledge has reached the point where it is almost impossible for caregivers to keep up with the latest advances. This tool will make Mayo Clinic's deep expertise available to care teams so that they can have concise, relevant and applicable answers to clinical questions, tailored to specific needs of each patient," Leibovich said.

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The technology will be first deployed at Mayo Clinic with the opportunity to extend the new solution to Verily's health system partners and customers, the organization said.

Mayo Clinic aims to use Verily's technology to "push past the limitations" of existing clinical decision support tools to make it more relevant for physicians and the patients they are caring for, Paul Varghese, Verily's head of health informatics, told Fierce Healthcare.

Most care pathways tend to be one-size-fits-all, he said.

"Clinical decision support tools can be rigid in what they present and ask clinicians to do more work to find the relevant things in order to make that last mile decision," Varghese said. "Working with Mayo, we can build more intelligence pathways."

Rick Nishimura, M.D., a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, said the technologists and physicians working on the project began with the premise of how to make life better for physicians and how they take care of patients.

"From a clinician standpoint, I can tell you, we hear the term CDS and everybody throws up their hands. No clinician wants to be told what to do by an EHR [electronic health record]," he said, noting that the tool Mayo and Verily developed leverages the knowledge and expertise of Mayo Clinic's physicians and medical experts.

For a physician treating a patient diagnosed with heart failure, the tool will pull up relevant information such as the patient's last stroke test and then recommend next steps, for example, Varghese said.

"In our initial discussions with experts at Mayo Clinic, we realized it was important to offer insights but also to offer insights on how and why the recommendation was generated and link to curated information, he said. "We also think it's important to learn from clinical decision-makers and give the clinician the opportunity to say, 'I’m going to choose something else'."

The decision support tool will be developed based on a broad range of data sources, including Mayo-vetted clinical knowledge and de-identified health record data. The tool will use open standards to enable integration with multiple commercial EHRs, the organizations said.

Vivian Lee, M.D., president of Verily Health Platforms, said in a statement that the partnership offers a unique opportunity to combine "Mayo's leadership in knowledge management and clinical informatics with Verily's data science and product development expertise to create curated and validated clinical care pathways for clinicians."

This initiative aims to provide care teams with the most validated care management plan for some of the most prevalent and costly chronic conditions, she said.

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Mayo Clinic also works with Verily's sister company Google. In 2019, the hospital inked a 10-year strategic partnership with Google to use the tech giant's cloud platform to accelerate innovation through digital technologies. As part of that collaboration, Mayo Clinic will store patient data in the cloud and use advanced cloud computing, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to advance the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Google also plans to open its first office in Minnesota—a new Rochester-based space that will enable employees to work more closely with the Mayo Clinic on an array of ongoing cloud and artificial intelligence projects.

Verily, Alphabet's life-science-focused company, has been picking up the torch from Google's previous work in digital health, such as the use of AI to help detect suspicious polyps in real-time during screenings for colorectal cancer.

Google also recently disbanded its dedicated health unit, now splitting its health-focused projects across its myriad teams and divisions and reassigning its 570 employees across the company.