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BIDMC Next to Pilot Google’s Healthcare Search Tool

BIDMC Next to Pilot Google’s Healthcare Search Tool


By Samantha McGrail

– Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) will participate in an early access program to pilot a healthcare-specific search tool from Google designed to offer clinicians a quick and easy view of patients’ medical records. 

Nearly 50 physicians and nurses working in inpatient settings will assess the tool, called Care Studio, to ensure the quality, efficacy, and safety of it when used simultaneously with BIDMC data and systems.

Specifically, the group will assess the tool’s searchable view of patients’ medical records, which allows clinicians to experience more streamlined access to information that can be used to make crucial care decisions more quickly.

Clinicians will be able to type a word, abbreviation, or phrase into Google’s Care Studio search bar, which will then provide relevant information within their patient’s personal medical record from across various sources.

“As a leading tertiary care and academic medical center, we are committed to advancing health technology and to exploring solutions to healthcare’s digital challenges in support of providing excellent patient care,” Lawrence Markson, MD, MPH, chief medical information officer and vice president for clinical information systems at BIDMC, said in the announcement.

“Participating in this early access pilot allows us the opportunity to explore a technology tool that has the potential to streamline our clinicians’ workflow, allowing them to spend more time focused on our highest priority: our patients,” Markson continued. 

The overall goal of the project is to free up more time for clinicians to care for patients and reduce the need for patients to repeat information during each visit. BIDMC stated that technical work will begin in May to prepare for the implementation of the pilot. This preparation will include data analysis and validation over the coming months.

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BIDMC utilizes various systems, including the medical center’s core medical record system, the web-based electronic health record, called WebOMR, and other clinical systems designed for specific clinical specialties.

The BIDMC and Google partnership is a Business Associate Agreement (BAA), which ensures patient privacy obligations required under HIPAA. 

All records are stored in different formats. Currently, there is no central system to search across data from these multiple systems. Clinicians log-in and navigate each system individually to locate the information they need.

Notably, BIDMC patient data will be stored and maintained in a protected environment, unreachable by other Google customers.

In 2018, Google partnered with one of the US largest healthcare systems, Ascension, to collect detailed and personal health information from millions of people across 21 states.

But these companies found themselves in hot water when neither patients nor doctors were notified of the project. By 2019, at least 150 Google employees had already accessed large amounts of the data on tens of millions of patients.

Despite this, in February 2021, Eduardo Conrado, executive vice president of strategy and innovation at Ascension, stated that Ascension and Google will continue to take steps to improve their practices, systems, and services to better address the “imperatives” of today and the future. 

Notably, the companies took better safety measures and complied with all regulations, including HIPAA. Similar to the BIDMC and Google partnership, the Ascension and Google partnership will now be covered by a BAA that governs protected health information.

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