Mayo Clinic, Google Partner on AI-Based Diagnostics, Cloud Computing

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Biotechnology, conceptual illustration

Mayo Clinic and Google said they will jointly develop artificial intelligence (AI)-based diagnostics and carry out medical research using Google Cloud to store and secure the data, through a 10-year strategic partnership whose value was not disclosed.

The partners said their collaboration is intended to advance healthcare by applying computing technologies that in addition to cloud computing and AI will include data analytics and machine learning. Mayo Clinic plans to develop and deploy new machine learning models designed to improve clinical outcomes through better targeting of treatments for unspecified “serious and complex diseases,” Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian stated.

“Eventually, Mayo Clinic hopes to share these models and other joint solutions with caregivers across the globe to improve healthcare delivery,” Kurian said in a post on Google’s blog.

He said the strategic partnership is intended to combine Google’s cloud and AI capabilities and Mayo’s clinical expertise: “We’ll enable Mayo Clinic to lay out a roadmap of cloud and AI-enabled solutions and will help Mayo Clinic develop a bold, new digital strategy to advance the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

“Ultimately, we will work together to solve humanity’s most serious and complex medical challenges,” Kurian added.

Mayo Clinic Chief Information Officer Christopher Ross explains the collaboration launched by his institution and Google. The partners have agreed to jointly develop artificial intelligence (AI)-based diagnostics and carry out medical research using Google Cloud to store and secure the data, through a 10-year strategic partnership [Mayo Clinic via YouTube]

Under the collaboration, Google agreed to open a new office near Mayo Clinic’s headquarters in Rochester, MN. Google engineers will work there with Mayo Clinic researchers, physicians, information technology staff and data scientists.

Mayo Clinic agreed to secure and store its data through Google Cloud, insisting in a statement that it will continue to control access and use of its patient data “using rigorous long-standing institutional controls.” Mayo Clinic said it will authorize the use of its data specifically “for projects to create new health care insights and solutions in conjunction with partners, including Google.”

“Data-driven medical innovation is growing exponentially, and our partnership with Google will help us lead the digital transformation in health care,” Mayo Clinic President and CEO Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., said in a statement. “It will empower us to solve some of the most complex medical problems; better anticipate the needs of people we serve; and meet them when, where and how they need us. We will share our knowledge and expertise globally while caring for people locally and always do it with a human touch.”

Mayo Clinic has undertaken several large-scale computing collaborations in recent years. For example, in September 2014, Mayo Clinic and IBM Watson agreed to partner on matching patients to appropriate clinical trials, beginning with research studies in cancer. And earlier this year, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, the global reference laboratory of Mayo Clinic, teamed up with Numares to develop clinical diagnostic tests designed to measure clusters of risk factors rather than individual biomarkers

In a video posted yesterday on YouTube by Mayo Clinic, Steve G. Peters, M.D., Consultant, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, said the collaboration would help the institution cut down on costly re-hospitalization of patients.

“Increasingly, we’ll be looking for tools that allow us to manage the patient after the visit—chronic conditions, complex diseases—where regular follow-up is necessary, but a patient, for example, would not need to make a long trip back to Rochester when there are things we could do remotely, that might involve wearable devices, or devices in the home, and electronic communication.”

Mayo Clinic Chief Information Officer Christopher Ross said in the video that the partners aim to begin moving the institution’s 3 petabytes of data into Google’s cloud environment “as soon as we possibly can.”

The process of uploading patient medical records and other data into the Google Cloud is expected to take 12 to 36 months, Eric Harnisch, senior director for Mayo Clinic Business Development, told the Post Bulletin of Rochester, MN.

Ross said the collaboration reflected changes in patient expectations from healthcare.

“The needs of patients are changing,” Ross said. “People expect to have experience from healthcare like they get when they book an airline trip, or they book an Airbnb, or they find the Uber that’s down the street from them. They’re looking for convenience, speed, immediacy, availability, high-touch—all those kinds of things.”

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