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Google Now Supports Medical Imaging in the Healthcare Cloud

Google's latest health IT collaborations support medical imaging in the healthcare cloud for more flexible storage and to make better use of AI and analytics tools.

healthcare cloud for medical imaging

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Medical imaging is one of the fastest growing data sources in healthcare. Organizations are looking to the healthcare cloud to give medical image storage environments flexibility as more images need to be stored and analyzed.

Google recently announced collaborations with several health IT vendors to give them a broader and more flexible platform for clinicians to access medical images. The move will also give increased interoperability among organizations also using the Google Cloud platform.

Change Healthcare is one of the health IT companies that formed a strategic partnership with Google Cloud. Change Healthcare is leveraging Google Cloud to enhance its medical imaging with Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics infrastructure.

Google and Change Healthcare are working to solve healthcare-specific challenges using the organizations’ combined advanced technology. Using machine learning, the companies hope to make the massive amounts of health data collected more actionable so it can be used at the point of care.

"Change Healthcare is positioned to transform the value that imaging brings to healthcare providers. By working with Google Cloud in this strategic collaboration, we are poised to accelerate that transformation," Change Healthcare Executive Vice President and President for Imaging, Workflow and Care Solutions Erkan Akyuz said in a statement.

"In today's dynamic healthcare industry, providers are looking for new ways to improve patient care. That is why Change Healthcare will be working with Google Cloud to introduce innovative technologies and solutions to address the challenges healthcare providers face both today and in the future."

The partnership aims to make it easier for organizations using Change Healthcare tools on the Google Cloud platform to share and analyze medical images, resulting in better and more efficient patient care.

Dicom Systems also announced its partnership with Google Cloud to launch the Dicom hybrid cloud vendor neutral archive (VNA), de-identification, and imaging data supply chain platform.

Organizations can save money by moving part of their medical image archive to the Google Cloud instead of spending money on-premises equipment. VNAs and picture archiving communication systems (PACS) are expensive to maintain on-premises and are very difficult to migrate. Deploying a VNA or PAC system partially in the cloud can significantly reduce cost and expand flexibility.

"We are setting our sights on a distinct segment of the imaging data supply chain: enabling machine learning and building neural networks that can ultimately supplement the work of physicians," Dicom Systems Executive Vice President Florent Saint-Clair said in a statement.

"As an industry, we're just beginning to understand the building blocks necessary to design effective and reliable AI in imaging diagnostics,” Saint-Clair continued. “We could not have found a better, no-nonsense cloud provider than Google Cloud to deliver our vision. On their powerful infrastructure, we're able to offer competitive pricing as well as a data rebate when our customers contribute their de-identified images for use. The data lake then becomes a unique source of raw data that can be used by AI researchers everywhere."

New ways to utilize the public cloud for interoperability and cost savings are becoming more important as organizations continue to add digital tools to their health IT infrastructure. Medical image storage is one of the most data intensive parts of health IT infrastructure and many organizations are still using legacy methods, such as tapes, to store them.

The volume of images and data coming into organizations makes tapes an impractical way to store the information because there is a higher risk that the data will be physically lost or misplaced in the data center.

Large public cloud platforms like Google can give organizations unlimited expansion potential for medical images and entities don’t need to worry about keeping track of maintaining tapes and servers. Some organizations may still be skeptical but public cloud service providers are making efforts to accommodate the unique needs of the healthcare industry.