September 11, 2019

Mayo Clinic on Tuesday announced a 10-year strategic partnership with Google to use the tech giant's cloud to store patient data and develop products that Mayo says "will redefine how health care is delivered."

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What's known about the partnership so far

The deal comes as Mayo seeks to expand its use of artificial intelligence (AI), according to STAT News. Under the partnership, Mayo aims to further develop technology using AI as well as machine learning, data analytics, and advanced cloud computing. For instance, Mayo in a release said its partnership with Google will allow it to develop more advanced AI-enabled digital diagnostics.

With the deal, Mayo will gain greater access to Google's talent and resources, STAT News reports. Google plans to open an office in Mayo's home of Rochester, Minnesota, so that Google engineers can work closely with Mayo clinicians and other staff.

Further, under the partnership, Mayo will use Google Cloud to store and secure all of its data. Currently, the clinic's internal cloud storage holds about three petabytes of data, and the partnership with Google will allow it to increase its capacity tenfold, according to STAT News.

While Google Cloud will store and secure all of Mayo Clinic's data, Mayo will continue to control access to that information. Chris Ross, Mayo's CIO, said, "We own the keys to the data. It's Mayo-controlled private data that we keep on behalf of our patients. Google doesn't have any right or ability to get to [that] data."

Mayo may decide to share de-identified data with Google and other parties for specific projects as part of the partnership, Ross said.

Implications

Gianrico Farrugia, president and CEO of Mayo, said the Clinic's partnership with Google "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."

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said that the health care industry is "a major area of investment for Google," and that the company's partnership with Mayo presents "an extraordinary opportunity to develop services that will significantly improve lives."

According to STAT News, the collaboration "is a testament to Google's expanding role in the U.S. health care system."

But Mayo isn't the first health system to partner with a tech giant, the Wall Street Journal reports. In July, Providence St. Joseph Health reached a data-storage agreement with Microsoft, and Cerner in July announced a cloud-storage agreement with Amazon Web Services (KTTC, 9/10; Ross, STAT News, 9/10; Japsen, Forbes, 9/10; Anastasijevic, Mayo Clinic, 9/10; Evans, Wall Street Journal, 9/10).

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