An API is an interface that allows other isolated interfaces to communicate with one another, by integrating all information into a single, shareable source. In the context of healthcare, such devices aggregate masses of patient, government, and research data from internal and external sources across one single pane of glass.
The ramifications of this functionality are significant. Researchers that need data for detecting breast cancer or diabetes no longer need to travel from institutions to libraries for their sources. Instead, all they need to do is access one centralized hub. Hospital and healthcare managers can analyze live data for ML-programmed insights. They can also provide faster, more up-to-date patient information. Insurance providers can use these same analytics to analyze and adjust patient information in bulk. Stakeholders involved in patient care and billing can share medical records, reducing error and allowing hospital staff to focus on healing, rather than paperwork.
This technology also makes a difference on the individual level. Patients can have safe and convenient access to their data for more informed health decisions, anytime, anywhere, mostly from their smartphones. Doctors and nurses can more easily access government and research data that might help them make smarter diagnoses. Application developers can work on one centralized platform, enabling them to implement institutional upgrades and updates with half the usual time and cost. Managers can adhere to changing HIPAA standards while driving innovation in healthcare.
The Google Cloud Healthcare API
The Google Cloud Healthcare API meets the latest HL7, DICOM, and FHIR standards, making it uncommonly secure. According to an IDC InfoBrief titled “The Role of Customer Experience Networks in Delivering Value-Based Digital Transformation,” one of the biggest issues healthcare APIs have is how they handle security and regulatory requirements. Healthcare APIs are more vulnerable to security issues and their ramifications than APIs from most other industries, since they deal with sensitive patient information, accessed by diverse stakeholders and integrated with third-party integrations.
Google Cloud assures vendors that its API “protect
your healthcare data with security and privacy controls you can trust.” Its system uses REST-based APIs, making the system faster and more lightweight, with increased scalability, perfect for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as for patients (or providers) to access health records via their mobiles.
McKesson Corporation and Google Cloud
In 2019, McKesson selected Google Cloud as its preferred cloud provider. A Fortune 6 company, McKesson is a global leader in healthcare supply chain management solutions, retail pharmacy, community oncology and specialty care, and healthcare information technology. The company’s objectives were to “create and modernize next generation solutions to deliver better healthcare, one patient at a time.”
To that end, McKesson adopted Google Cloud Platform’s managed services, along with healthcare-specific services that included the Google Cloud Healthcare API, to enhance its platforms and applications.
The company transferred its on-premise resources to Google Cloud, using the Google Cloud Healthcare API to ingest, store, analyze, and integrate the company’s healthcare data across its cloud applications. It also used Google’s analytics function to make data-driven decisions for product manufacturing, specialty drug distribution, and pharmacy retail operations.
“This partnership [with Google] will not only accelerate and expand our strategic objectives,” said Andrew Zitney, senior vice-president and CTO of McKesson Technology, “it will also help fuel next-generation innovation by driving new technologies, advancing new business models, and delivering insights.”
Offerings like the Google Cloud Healthcare API will continue to impact the healthcare industry in various ways, but across potential industry use cases, data production overall will become more accurate and storage more secure and safe. In short, hospitals, healthcare systems, insurers, and life sciences companies have a better chance at increasing their productivity and efficacy with these API integrations.