Google, HCA form deal to develop healthcare algorithms for patient care, supply chain

May 26, 2021 – Alphabet Inc.’s Google and HCA Healthcare Inc. (Nashville, TN) have formed a deal to develop healthcare algorithms using patient records. Under the multiyear agreement HCA would consolidate and store with Google data from digital health records and internet-connected medical devices.

Google and HCA engineers will work to develop algorithms to help improve operating efficiency, monitor patients and guide doctors’ decisions, according to the companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. The multiyear agreement will seek to develop algorithms using data from 32 million annual patient visits that could help monitor patients and guide treatment.

There’s also a supply chain component to the deal, as the companies will seek to develop algorithms that would help improve operations, such as by automating how hospital units track inventory of critical supplies.

Google will access data when needed with consent from HCA, but the company can develop analytic tools without patient records and allow HCA to test the models independently, said Chris Sakalosky, managing director of healthcare and life sciences at Google Cloud. “We want to push the boundaries of what the clinician can do in real time with data,” he said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

During the pandemic, HCA used its own technology to monitor critically ill Covid-19 patients and notify doctors of potentially better treatment options. The company found that survival rates increased by comparing the outcomes for patients before and after rolling out the algorithm.

Google has previously reached deals with other prominent U.S. hospital systems, including Ascension (St. Louis, MO), that granted access to personal patient information, drawing public scrutiny. Other tech giants have struck similar deals with mixed success, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Data crunching offers the opportunity to develop new treatments and improve patient safety, but algorithm-development deals between hospitals and tech companies have also raised privacy alarms. Companies may also use the data under the HIPPA law in ways to develop products that boost profit, with no visibility or control for patients over how their data is used.

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