Google launches AI-backed search-and-answer tool for doctors – Yahoo Finance

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Dive Brief:

  • Google Cloud has launched a tool backed by generative artificial intelligence that allows clinicians to search for information across patient notes, scanned documents and other clinical data.

  • That tool, called Vertex AI Search for Healthcare, is now available for Google Cloud customers, the tech giant announced Tuesday during the HIMSS conference in Las Vegas.

  • Along with search, the technology — which can be directly integrated into physicians’ workflows — can also answer questions, like queries about a patient’s medical history.

Dive Insight:

Technology behemoths like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, along with healthcare-specific vendors like Oracle Cerner and Epic, have launched a flurry of generative AI-backed software over the past year, most targeted toward streamlining clinical notetaking.

A number of hospitals are already using the tools despite concerns about the ethical use of AI, including the potential for errors or exacerbating existing disparities — and a lack of regulation from the federal government.

Last fall, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for the responsible use of AI in healthcare, but the HHS has yet to stand up a regulatory structure overseeing the futuristic technology. A department task force created by that executive order has one year to complete a plan.

As the threat of oversight looms, industry is rushing to weave AI products into the operations of hospital and health plan clients.

Google has now unveiled yet another suite of artificial intelligence-backed tools for healthcare aimed at ameliorating administrative burden on clinicians. The technology — which Google made available for early access in October — is an offshoot of Vertex AI Search, a platform that helps developers build search engines for their websites and data stores, that was tuned specifically on medical information.

In a press release on the news, Google touted the technology’s understanding of medical terminology that allows its search and question-answering capabilities to answer complex queries. Vertex AI Search for Healthcare also cites specific data points that generated the answers to give clinicians more transparency into where the data originated, to reduce the risk of hallucinations (a tech term for when AI makes up a response).

Vertex AI Search for Healthcare integrates with another Google tool aimed at making data more interoperable, called Health Data Engine. It also integrates with MedLM, a group of so-called “foundation models” that Google launched in December. MedLM is a portfolio of algorithms trained on a broad set of healthcare data so they can be applied to a variety of use cases.

As a result, “there’s nothing in the market like [Vertex AI Search for Healthcare],” said Aashima Gupta, Google Cloud’s director of healthcare, in an interview at HIMSS.

Vertex AI Search for Healthcare’s integration with MedLM is available in early access for select customers, according to the release.

Highmark Health, an integrated health system in western Pennsylvania, has taken the Google components to centralize and standardize its data, and build a tool around it that suggests next-best actions for health plan members, according to Brian Lucotch, president of Highmark tech subsidiary EnGen.

Google also announced two new capabilities for MedLM on Tuesday: one specific to the classification of chest X-rays and one that can provide a chronological list of patient conditions.

Google plans to add more models in the coming months. Those include a model based on Gemini, a group of large language models Google released in December as a competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which is backed by Microsoft.

Last month, Google paused Gemini’s image generation capabilities after it released historically inaccurate images, causing Google’s stock price to dip.

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