Why Google, Microsoft are betting on generative AI in healthcare

Tech giants such as Google and Microsoft are trying their hands at generative AI in healthcare and are partnering with some of the largest hospitals and health systems in the U.S. to see how this new tech can automate tedious tasks for clinicians and to see how it can make searching for patient information easier. 


Google's cloud business is expanding its use of generative AI and recently announced that it will be partnering with Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic. 

On June 7, Google Cloud said it would work with Mayo Clinic to test out its new service, the Enterprise Search in Generative AI App Builder, which Google introduced on June 6 to its customers. But, for the healthcare industry, this new partnership could mean better interpretation for healthcare data. 

For example, under the new partnership, Mayo will adopt Google's new technology to interpret data such as patient records, clinical research and published guidelines. 

"Our prioritization of patient safety, privacy, and ethical considerations, means that generative AI can have a significant and positive impact on how we work and deliver healthcare," Mayo CIO Cris Ross said in a June 7 press release. "Google Cloud's tools have the potential to unlock sources of information that typically aren't searchable in a conventional manner, or are difficult to access or interpret, from a patient's complex medical history to their imaging, genomics, and labs. Accessing insights more quickly and easily could drive more cures, create more connections with patients, and transform healthcare."

The two organizations aim to interpret data with more simplicity, just as one would do if they were searching for something on Google search. 


Microsoft-backed OpenAI also released the chatbot ChatGPT, which has been touted as a new technology that can transform the healthcare industry, and the tech giant recently partnered with several health systems on a pilot using GPT to answer patient inquiries.  

On April 17, Microsoft announced that it would be partnering with EHR vendor Epic Systems to integrate generative AI into its EHR software, and four health systems signed on to pilot the new integration.

UC San Diego Health, Madison Wis.-based UW Health, and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Health Care, and Chapel Hill, N.C.-based UNC Health have already started using the new integration to automatically draft responses to messages physicians receive from patients through MyChart online patient portals. 

Christopher Longhurst, MD, chief medical officer and chief digital officer at UC San Diego Health, told Becker's that initial feedback from physicians and patients from the pilot has been positive. 

Peter Lee, corporate vice president of research and incubations at Microsoft, also said Epic's first AI developments excited him and brought tears to his eyes. 

With the new integration, Microsoft aims to scale generative AI technology to reduce clinicians' time spent on repetitive tasks.

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