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Mayo to partner with Google on data storage, AI

Mayo to partner with Google on data storage, AI

Mayo Clinic is entrusting Google with one of its most valuable resources.

On Tuesday, Mayo announced a 10-year data partnership with the tech giant. As part of the agreement, Mayo will not only store its medical, genetic and financial data in the Google Cloud — it will also work with Google to use cloud computing, data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to improve the delivery of healthcare.

"Data-driven medical innovation is growing exponentially, and our partnership with Google will help us lead the digital transformation in health care," said Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, Mayo’s president and CEO.

Under the partnership, Google will open an office space in Rochester where its engineers can work alongside Mayo scientists. The company has not said where that office space will be located or how many employees it plans to add locally. Financial terms of the deal were also not disclosed.

The move comes as Mayo looks to position itself as a leader in the use of artificial intelligence in medicine. Earlier this year, speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Farrugia discussed the idea of a healthcare-centric platform built around clinical knowledge.

“It’s a platform that will allow us to work with partners, but will also allow our partners to work with other partners — sometimes without even involving us,” said Farrugia. “And that way we can create new medical knowledge, and that new medical knowledge will then create a virtuous cycle of innovation and value.”

Mayo stresses that even with the new partnership, it will continue to manage and control access to patient data.

The collaboration with Google follows the completion of the hospital system’s transition to the Epic medical record system.

Dr. Steve Peters, chief medical information officer, said that process — which involved converting data from a wide variety of forms onto a single electronic system — was just the start of what’s to come.

“There’s a lot more to be done,” said Peters. “There are a lot more tools to bring to bear. We can’t do all of that ourselves. So, partnering with a large vendor with capabilities in data science, research, and artificial intelligence can open up a lot of doors that are not available to us now.”

Mayo is the latest hospital system to ink a deal with a cloud provider, according to an article by the news site STAT. Partnering with Google, STAT says, could “fuel broader experimentation across the hospital system and help Mayo craft AI that could reach patients far beyond its walls.”

“The 10-year partnership is a testament to Google’s expanding role in the U.S. health care system and gives Mayo greater access to the engineering talent and computing resources it needs to embed its expertise in algorithms and commercial devices,” writes STAT’s Casey Ross.

This will not be the first time the two brands — both leaders in their own industries — have worked together. A few years back, Google enlisted Mayo to help it develop more accurate health information for its search engine.

Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.

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