Google's new patent application highlights its interest in hospital software

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A newly revealed patent application highlights Google's interest in monetizing electronic health record (EHR) software designed to help hospitals predict patient outcomes, according to Politico.

Primary Value of EHRs for US PhysiciansBusiness Insider Intelligence
Google's patent describes a system consisting of three main parts: software that aggregates millions of patients' records from multiple organizations, a computer that applies deep learning to those records, and a physician-facing computer interface that displays predictions of a patient's future clinical events to physicians in a digestible format.

It's unknown how far Google's progressed in developing this clinical decision support (CDS) tool since the patent was submitted in July 2017, but Google did publish the results from a similar predictive system in May 2018 - which outperformed traditional methods in predicting rates of in-hospital mortality and readmissions.

Google could achieve huge commercial success if it can develop clinically useful EHR software - here's why:

  • The EHR market is a large and stable opportunity. Globally, the market for electronic medical records is projected to hit approximately $40 billion by 2022, growing 6% annually from $32 billion in 2018, per a Kalorama report. And 35% of the US provider market intends to switch EHR vendors by 2021, per a 2018 survey, presenting Google with an opportunity to use cyclical demand as an entryway into the booming EHR market.
  • And there's likely substantial provider demand for an improved EHR product.Currently, just 8% of physicians say their EHR produces a clinical benefit like disease prevention or CDS. And EHRs are also directly linked to physician burnout, a widespread affliction that can exacerbate providers' labor costs and contributes to misdiagnoses. If Google can develop an EHR product that can generate clinically valuable insights and reduce physicians' IT workload, it will likely see ample demand from provider institutions.

But Google faces stiff competition from its big tech peers in the EHR market. Apple's been signing up more healthcare institutions to integrate with its patient-centered portable health record - a major strategic focus of its healthcare play - for example.

And Amazon released a new AI-powered cloud software that's designed to help health firms quickly and accurately extract care-improving clinical information from unstructured medical records in November 2018.

 

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