Google Cloud is partnering with Mayo Clinic in an effort to expand the use of generative AI in healthcare

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address at the Google I/O developer conference at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California on May 10, 2023.

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Google’s cloud business is expanding the use of new AI technologies in healthcare, giving medical professionals at the Mayo Clinic the ability to find patient information quickly using the kinds of tools that power the latest chatbots.

On Wednesday, Google Cloud said the Mayo Clinic is testing a new service called Enterprise Search on the Generative AI App Builder, which was introduced on Tuesday. The tool effectively allows customers to build their own chatbots by using Google’s technology to sift through disparate mounds of internal data.

In healthcare, this means workers can interpret data such as a patient’s medical history, imaging records, genomics or labs more quickly and with a simple query, even if the information is stored in different formats and locations. The Mayo Clinic, a top hospital system in the US with dozens of locations, is an early adopter of the technology for Google, which is looking to bolster the use of generative AI in the medical system.

The Mayo Clinic will test several use cases for the search tool in the coming months, and Mayo Clinic chief technology officer Vish Anantraman said it has already been “very satisfying” for helping physicians with administrative tasks that often contribute to burnout. .

For example, if a physician needs to view information about a cohort of female patients aged 45 to 55, including their mammograms and medical records, they can enter that query into the search tool instead of searching for each item separately . Likewise, if a doctor needs to know which clinical trials a patient might match, she can look up that too.

“It will save a lot of time, avoid physician burnout, reduce administrative overhead,” Anantraman told CNBC in an interview.

Generative AI has been the hottest topic in technology since late 2022, when Microsoft-backed OpenAI released the ChatGPT chatbot to the public. Google has been racing to catch up, launching its Bard AI chat service earlier this year and pushing to incorporate the underlying technology into as many products as possible. Healthcare is a particularly challenging area because there is less room for wrong answers or hallucinations, which occur when AI models fabricate the information entirely.

Aashima Gupta, global director of healthcare strategy and solutions at Google Cloud, said Google is taking a “security over speed” approach with its enterprise search tool, which is why the company has limited to select early adopters like the Mayo Clinic instead of rolling out more broadly.

“We want to be very thoughtful and responsible in how we leverage such a powerful tool as generative AI in a business setting, especially in healthcare,” Gupta told CNBC in an interview.

Google said its approach to privacy ensures customers retain control over their data, and noted that the new service is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Anantraman said the Mayo Clinic has created “safe sandboxes” for workers to test applications of the technology and identify where it can be most useful.

“We take patient data privacy very seriously and our patients’ needs come first,” he said. “This is one reason why healthcare needs to be very cautious in general as an industry adopting technologies that may not be fully tested, may not be fully vetted.”

Google Cloud and Mayo Clinic signed a 10-year partnership in 2019. Mayo said at the time it had chosen Google Cloud as the “cornerstone of its digital transformation.” The partnership announced Wednesday is the first step in an expanded agreement between the two companies to work together on applications of AI in healthcare.

CLOCK: CNBC interview with Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian

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