The Benefits of Using the Google Cloud Healthcare Platform in 2022 and Beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic permanently altered the healthcare landscape, impacting who can receive care and how they receive it. It also shed light on some of the biggest foundational issues in the US healthcare system, such as employment-based health insurance, gaps in care, and disparate data systems.

Whether due to lockdowns or loss of insurance, millions of people were forced to postpone appointments for preventative care, mental health, elective procedures, and more.

When the pandemic forced healthcare organizations to shut their doors, providers turned to virtual solutions to stay connected with their patients. Healthcare leaders estimate that COVID-19 accelerated telehealth in the US by a decade, if not more, changing how and when consumers get the care they need. From primary care providers to specialists and addiction care, healthcare services are moving past what was once thought only feasible in-person to a new digital landscape.

In this article, we’ll explore how two solutions are enhancing healthcare’s transformation: Google Cloud for healthcare and the Google Cloud Healthcare Data Engine.

What Is Google Cloud for Healthcare?

Google aims to organize information in such a way that it is accessible and usable worldwide. The Google Cloud healthcare platform is designed to do just that—deliver the right information to the right people and increase data interoperability across the care continuum.

Google Cloud’s healthcare solutions support a wide variety of healthcare systems and workflows to meet three primary goals:

  1. Facilitate secure, continuous patient care.
  1. Empower healthcare professionals with collaboration and productivity tools.
  1. Make clinical and operational decisions based on data analytics and insights.

Let’s take a closer look at these three goals.

1. Facilitating Secure, Continuous Patient Care

In August 2020, Google Cloud announced its partnership with Amwell, a leading telehealth platform. By running the Amwell telehealth platform on Google Cloud, the telehealth solution integrates with the Google Cloud full suite of collaboration tools in a secure environment that supports compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Telehealth solutions can help reduce care barriers, decrease wait times, minimize waiting room volumes, and combat provider shortages.

Virtual visits also remove some of the care barriers caused by distance and transportation. While 92% of Americans have access to wired or mobile broadband internet, 8.6 million live more than 30 minutes from the nearest hospital.

In rural settings, 55% of preventable hospitalizations or deaths are due to a lack of access to specialty care. Google Cloud healthcare telehealth services can help ensure that everyone can access the services they need, regardless of their location.

But patient care goes beyond appointments and treatment plans. Another component enhanced through Google Cloud healthcare solutions is its healthcare call center.

On average, 13% of calls are disconnected before callers are routed to an agent, and 67% percent of callers hang up out of frustration.

To meet high demands, call centers can leverage Contact Center AI by Google Cloud, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer service and enable more natural interactions with virtual agents. It also provides analytics and reporting to help provide teams with greater insight into things like why customers are calling and customer sentiment.

When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the pandemic’s status in March 2020, healthcare call centers and crisis lines experienced a spike in calls that more than doubled on-hold waiting times.

Agents handling excessive call volume and frustrated patients are at an increased risk of stress and burnout. Contact Center AI gives agents more time to focus on high-value calls, with the AI assisting agents on more complex cases.

2. Empowering Providers with Collaboration and Productivity Tools

Google Workspace is a component of the Google Cloud healthcare platform that enables real-time collaboration across the healthcare system. Patient records are often scattered across disparate systems, with separate files kept by each doctor, specialist, or hospital visited. With cloud-based Electronic Health Records (EHRs), healthcare providers at various medical facilities can access and gain insights from patient and provider interactions at other organizations.

Patient data stored in Google Cloud for healthcare is accessible from anywhere, backed by HIPAA-compliant security to keep records and information safe. Remote and on-site care teams can work together through Workspace tools like Google Drive, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, and more to help improve collaboration. By harmonizing data from EHRs and other data sources in the cloud, providers can share data, engage with one another in real time, and make better clinical decisions at the point of care.

Cloud-native solutions can enhance productivity for healthcare workers. Rather than losing time waiting for fixed workstations to boot up, staff can access resources using secure, shareable Chrome OS devices like Chromebooks. Chromebooks are fast, lightweight thin-client laptops that can provide users with easy, on-the-go access to files and information.

Chromebooks and other Chrome OS devices can even operate as self-service stations for patients, reducing the administrative burden on medical staff. This is especially important considering that only 14% of healthcare professionals feel they have enough time to provide high-quality patient care.

3. Using Data to Make Better Clinical and Operational Decisions

Healthcare providers tackle numerous difficult decisions every day, from choosing the right course of treatment for an infection to evaluating the benefits of a prescription against its side effects.Data analytics tools are playing an increasingly important role in how healthcare organizations seek to improve care delivery.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping the healthcare landscape, helping professionals identify issues and solutions faster and with greater accuracy. Important information is often found in unstructured data, such as text-heavy medical history or diagnostic images.

Google’s Healthcare Natural Language API makes it easier for clinicians to pull important information not stored in the structured fields of a medical record.

In 2020, Google Cloud also developed another AI tool to help healthcare organizations scan and analyze large volumes of unstructured data: AutoML Entity Extraction for Healthcare. This tool enriches health applications that depend on unstructured data and complements the insights available through the Healthcare Natural Language API.

AutoML Entity Extraction for Healthcare is a low-code solution that helps healthcare professionals build information extraction tools for digital documents. Reviewing medical documents manually is labor-intensive and prone to human errors, but this AI tool can help improve accuracy and efficiency when pulling information from within unstructured data.

What Is the Google Cloud Healthcare Data Engine?

In July 2021, Google announced its latest end-to-end solution for enhancing interoperability in healthcare: Healthcare Data Engine.

As of this writing, the tool is currently in Google’s Preview stage of product launch. Google is working with partners including Deloitte, Maven Wave, Quantiphi, and SADA to help organizations deploy it.

Healthcare Data Engine can collate data from multiple sources, such as research data, medical records, insurance claims, and more. It enhances the capabilities of the Google Cloud Healthcare API, which facilitates data exchange between healthcare solutions and applications built on Google Cloud.

As an end-to-end data solution, Healthcare Data Engine helps organizations create longitudinal patient records, which are single, comprehensive records containing patient data from numerous sources.

In addition to enabling the creation of more detailed patient data records, Healthcare Data Engine also provides clinical insights in Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) format.

FHIR is an interoperability standard for exchanging electronic health records in situations such as:

Healthcare Data Engine uses Google Analytics and AI tools to process patient data. This helps eliminate data silos and improve health outcomes. The solution also uses a multi-layered security approach to protect healthcare data and incorporates a cloud configuration that supports HIPAA best practices.

In November 2021, Google Cloud partnered with Pegasystems Inc. (Pega) to combine the capabilities of Healthcare Data Engine and Pega’s healthcare solutions. This collaboration between Google’s comprehensive data platform and Pega’s healthcare technologies will allow healthcare organizations to unlock the full potential of their data to create better health outcomes and experiences.

Maximize the Value of Google Cloud Healthcare Solutions with Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS

To improve patient outcomes and real-time decision making, healthcare professionals need constant access to electronic health records. Relying on printed records and desktop terminals can be inefficient, sometimes requiring providers to leave a patient’s room to go to a fixed workstation to enter notes and order prescriptions or tests.

Google Cloud gives healthcare facilities a connected infrastructure that helps medical staff access cloud-based files and information from anywhere.

Google Chromebook devices offer unique benefits to the healthcare industry. Rather than storing files locally on a device that could be lost, stolen, or compromised, these Chrome OS-powered devices keep everything in the cloud.

Healthcare providers can also take advantage of a full suite of productivity tools available on Chromebooks, such as:

For all their benefits, one major downside of Chromebooks is that they are not capable of running Windows applications locally.

Parallels® Desktop for Chrome OS is the first-ever desktop virtualization solution that enables full-featured Windows applications to run on Chrome OS through enterprise Chromebooks.

When Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS is integrated with Chrome OS and the Google Admin console, it enables the use of full-featured Windows applications, including Microsoft Office and thousands of proprietary applications, even without an internet connection.

Discover how Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS can help your organization benefit from Google Cloud for healthcare.