The task of improving global health is a team sport, and artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the key players. No single person or company can revolutionize healthcare independently; it requires partnerships and collective efforts. This is the approach that Google, a tech giant and a major player in the field of AI, is taking to enhance the health of millions of people worldwide.
Google Health recently participated in HLTH 2023, a major industry event that gathers over 10,000 people from various sectors to discuss and strategize on building a healthier future together. This year, the spotlight was on AI and its role in healthcare.
The Role of AI in Google’s Healthcare Initiatives
Google’s work in AI is not a recent development. The company has been leveraging this technology across its products for years. It has been instrumental in ensuring that hundreds of millions of people who turn to Google with health-related questions every day find high-quality, credible health information. Google has also developed tools to help people monitor their heart rhythm on their watch or their respiratory rate on their phone.
In collaboration with partners like the World Health Organization (WHO), Google has provided credible health information to millions of people globally. The company’s research teams have rapidly advanced in developing medically-tuned large language models, such as Med-PaLM and Med-PaLM 2. These models have demonstrated expert-level performance on questions like those on medical licensing exams. They have also developed multimodal medical AI, capable of handling text and medical images like X-rays and other input types.
Introducing Generative AI to Support Healthcare and Life Sciences
One of the challenges in healthcare is that patient’s health records are often scattered across multiple systems, making it difficult for healthcare workers to find the information they need quickly. To address this issue, Google Cloud introduced new Vertex AI Search features specifically designed for healthcare and life science companies. These tools can help users find relevant information over a broader spectrum of data types more efficiently.
A Bold and Responsible Approach
Google’s Senior Vice President of Technology and Society, James Manyika, highlighted the company’s bold yet responsible approach to AI during his speech at HLTH. He discussed the transformative potential of AI to advance global health, from aiding scientific breakthroughs to solving everyday problems for clinicians and patients.
To ensure the responsible use of AI, Google continually challenges itself, asking: How can we maximize the societal benefit of AI while also assessing the risks? The company believes that partnerships are central to understanding what technology can and should do. For instance, Google has partnered with iCAD to scale its mammography AI model, aiming to speed up breast cancer diagnosis globally.
Collaboration with Industry Experts
Google understands the importance of partnering with industry experts and putting equity and inclusion at the heart of its work. By listening to ideas and experiences from across the industry, Google aims to ensure that AI happens with healthcare, not to healthcare. This is some thinking behind Google’s Dialogues on Technology and Society series.
In a recent episode, Greg Corrado, Head of Health AI at Google Research, and Dr. John Halamka, President of the Mayo Clinic Platform, discussed the long-term potential of generative AI for health. They emphasized the benefits, risks, considerations, and collaboration required to create a positive impact for everyone.