Google moved deeper into healthcare in 2020: 13 things to know

Google continued to develop healthcare-related products and services this year, many related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company struck new partnerships with healthcare organizations and invested in digital health startups. Here are 13 things to know about Google's moves in healthcare in the last year.

1. Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health signed a six-year partnership with Google Cloud to develop a secure and scalable platform with advanced analytic and artificial intelligence capabilities. The partnership, announced Dec. 17, is expected to create 125 IT jobs.

2. On Dec. 9, Google Health launched an app to connect individuals to clinical studies. The Android app allows users to participate in health studies by answering questions and contributing data. It already has been used in a study with Boston-based Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's to better understand respiratory illness, including COVID-19.

3. Google developed a tool with the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to help remind people to ask physicians important questions during visits. The pilot project for the technology began Dec. 2 and works with users to create a visit plan by suggesting questions. The questions can then be emailed to the physician's office and to be available during the appointment.

4. On Nov. 30, Google Cloud unveiled a program to help payers, providers and healthcare organizations prepare for the federal government's upcoming interoperability regulations. The program helps organizations navigate changes and includes Google Cloud Healthcare API access in addition to other interoperability tools.

5. New York tapped Google to build an online tool connecting residents with resources for food, housing and COVID-19-related services during the pandemic. The tool was launched Nov. 16.

6. On Nov. 10, Google launched artificial intelligence tools for healthcare providers to search through medical documentation. The tools, Google Healthcare Natural Language API and AutoML Entity Extraction for Healthcare, aim to reduce burnout and increase back-office and clinical practice productivity.

7. Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic launched its first artificial intelligence initiative with Google in October to boost radiation therapy planning. Mayo and Google began their partnership in 2019 and have been working on applying AI to medical imaging for patients with head and neck cancer.

8. Google Cloud invested $100 million in telehealth company Amwell on Aug. 24. The two companies aim to use artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to automate waiting room and checkout processes as well as language translation services.

9. Google's AI-focused venture fund co-led a $15 million investment round in Klara, a patient engagement platform company. The platform integrates with EHR and practice management systems to automate workflows. GV, Google's venture capital arm, led a $100 million funding round in Verana Health, a technology startup that analyzes clinical data to advance ophthalmic and neurologic care and research in February.

10. Google Cloud AI partnered with the Global Health Institute to launch the COVID-19 Public Forecasts dashboard in August, bringing together multiple data sources to make projections for hospitalization and death rates across the U.S. The partners released an update to their forecasting model on Nov. 16.

11. Google partnered with Apple this spring to develop exposure notification app technology. The app detects when users are close to someone who tests positive for COVID-19. States and health systems, including UC San Diego Health, have used the technology for contact tracing.

12. Google revealed its AI system that detects age-related macular degeneration and demonstrates the potential to predict the disease's progression on May 20.

13. On April 7, Google Cloud partnered with HCA Healthcare in Nashville, Tenn., and Sada Systems to develop an open data platform to promote data-sharing on the coronavirus pandemic.


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