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Google Cloud Healthcare API Now Generally Available

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In a recent blog post, Google announced the general availability of its Cloud Healthcare API. This service facilitates the exchange of healthcare data between solutions built on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and applications. 

The public cloud provider launched the Cloud Health Care API over two years ago in order to provide customers with a robust, scalable infrastructure solution to ingest and manage key healthcare data types, including HL7, FHIR and DICOM. Moreover, customers can use this data for analytics and machine learning in the cloud. Last year the service was released in beta, and now it is generally available.

Google Healthcare and Life Sciences directors Joe Corkery and Aashima Gupta wrote in the announcement blog post:

With the Cloud Healthcare API and our partner ecosystem, our goal is to make it as simple as possible for the industry to make informed, data-driven decisions, so that caregivers can focus on what matters most: saving lives.

And with the current COVID-19 pandemic:

As the industry is pushed to its limits in light of COVID-19, the need for increased data interoperability is more important than ever. In the last few months, the industry has laid the foundation for progress with final rules issued by CMS and ONC, implementing key provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. Today, healthcare organizations are in dire need of easy-to-use technology that supports health information exchange.  

Since the Cloud Healthcare API deals with privacy-sensitive data and needs to be secure, Google has integrated it with several data loss prevention, policy and identity management tools. Users of the API can select the region in which to store their data, implement practices such as the principle of least privilege, and track all interactions with their data leveraging Google's Cloud Audit Logs.

Furthermore, Google ships the Cloud Healthcare API with connectors to various of its platform streaming data processing tools such as BigQuery, AI Platform, Dataflow and Looker. Also, the API features an automated de-identification capability that works by obfuscating or removing any personally identifiable information (PII) to allow using the data for training and evaluating machine learning models.


Currently, Google is not the only public cloud provider offering services for healthcare in the cloud. Last year in November, Microsoft released the Azure API for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) in GA as part of a series of APIs to help customers with machine learning on protected health information in the cloud. Furthermore, on the AWS, Amazon offers its Medical Comprehend service, which leverages machine learning to extract relevant medical information from unstructured text.

A respondent on a Reddit thread on the GA release wrote:

Many upsides to democratizing patient data between the providers and the consumers. This google's API release for GA will most definitely open up new opportunities in the healthcare space. It's a dream come true for several startups clamouring for this data, to provide a preventative cure.

More details of the Google Cloud Healthcare API are available on the documentation landing page, and pricing details are available on the pricing page.

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