By Leonard A. Robinson 

Google and national hospital chain HCA Healthcare have agreed to develop healthcare algorithms using patient records, the Wall Street Journal reported in a May 26 exclusive. 

HCA Healthcare will begin using Google Cloud’s healthcare data products, Google Cloud Healthcare API and BigQuery, as support for the company’s custom-built analytics tools, according to a joint statement from the companies. 

The move further entrenches Google in the $3 trillion dollar healthcare sector where there is a growing shift to digital records. Effective algorithms, such as those Google plans to develop, have the potential to develop new treatments and improve patient safety.

“Data are spun off every patient in real time,” said Dr. Jonathan Perlin, HCA’s chief medical officer. “Part of what we’re building is a central nervous system to help interpret the various signals.”

HCA hopes that future technology developed through the partnership will deliver algorithm based alerts to clinical staff’s cellular phones when their conditions worsen. Around 9,000 mobile devices already deployed by HCA will receive the new capabilities and other workflow tools, said the companies. Algorithms designed through this multi-year collaborative effort would analyze data from over 32 million patient visits, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Both companies express an interest in expanding into non-clinical operations, such as supply chain, human resources, and physical plant operations. 

“Next generation care demands data science-informed decision support so we can more sharply focus on safe, efficient, and effective patient care,” Sam Hazen, CEO of HSA, said in a statement. “We view partnerships with leading organizations, like Google Cloud, that share our passion for innovation and continual improvement as foundational to our efforts.”

HCA serves more than 30 million patients annually across 200 hospitals and nearly 2,000 ambulatory care sites across 20 states. The company generated over $13.9 billion in revenue and $1.4 billion in profit in the first quarter of 2021, according to Fierce Healthcare.

Per the statement, this is not the first collaborative effort between Google and HCA Healthcare. 

Last year, the pair launched the Covid-19 National Response Portal, an open data platform designed to garner understanding of how COVID-19 was impacting hospital systems. 

Google has reached deals with numerous other hospital systems, including Ascension Healthcare, which drew public scrutiny after granting the tech giant access to records.

Additionally, the Mayo Clinic and Google have struck a massive deal combining algorithm-development with the storage of large quantities of medical, genetic, and financial data.