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Healthcare & Life Sciences

The Google Cloud Healthcare Consent Management API: protecting emerging data in digital care and research

October 8, 2020
Jameson Rogers, Ph.D.

Product Manager, Google Cloud Healthcare & Life Sciences

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends across many industries; in health, it has created a need for new solutions to enable virtual care—and even run clinical trials remotely. This has, in turn, created the need for tools that help healthcare application developers and researchers easily manage and secure patient consent for the use of their data for medical care and research. 

That’s why we’re excited today to launch the Google Cloud Healthcare Consent Management API to Public Preview. The Healthcare Consent Management API gives healthcare application developers and clinical researchers a simple way to manage individuals’ consent of their health data. This is particularly important given the new and emerging virtual care and research scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, in healthcare, patients are using technologies like telemedicine to receive care from home. And, in life sciences, with so many in-person clinical trials put on hold, more researchers are conducting trials digitally to continue making strides in research and drug development. 

These “at home” clinical scenarios mean that healthcare systems and clinical researchers are increasingly relying on consumer data from new sources, such as wearables, medical devices (like blood pressure and glucose monitors), and other technologies. These new sources of data, while an encouraging step forward for the industry, also present new challenges, as both healthcare providers and researchers struggle with how to manage, protect, and obtain patient consent for their use. 

The Google Cloud Healthcare Consent Management API helps by making it easier to satisfy the requirements of existing and emerging privacy and consent frameworks while supporting the transparent and responsible incorporation of digital health data into patient care and research.

“Responsibly managing health data is crucial to advancing healthcare and research outcomes, particularly as we explore new methods of delivering care and conducting research” said John Wilbanks, Chief Commons Officer at Sage Bionetworks. “For example, many people want to contribute to medical research or take advantage of new virtual care models, but they want assurances about how and by whom their information is accessed. Google Cloud’s Healthcare Consent Management API can simplify this technologically complex process. I look forward to leveraging the API in my own work, and to learning how to use tools like this to empower individuals with more granular control over their data.”  

How the Google Cloud Healthcare Consent Management API works
The Healthcare Consent Management API complements existing privacy frameworks and makes it easier for application developers to provide tools that empower patients to better track, modify, and revoke consent around the use of their data.

“Organizations are rapidly embracing digital delivery and management of personalized and patient-centered care. These solutions require robust consent management for regulatory compliance, and also must give patients transparent control over how their data is used,” said Denise Palermo, Accenture Managing Director, Patient Services. “We’re excited to be making Google Cloud’s Healthcare Consent Management API a key component of our solutions in this space.” 

To use the service, an organization creates their own isolated instance of the Healthcare Consent Management API, which includes that organization’s consent policies, executed consent agreements, and the metadata linking those policies and agreements to any relevant data. The actual user health and wellness data is then stored by the organization in their preferred datastores. 

As a part of the Google Cloud Healthcare service, the Healthcare Consent Management API supports HIPAA compliance, and data managed through its use is overseen by healthcare providers, application developers, and researchers under agreements between these organizations and their users.

We are excited to introduce the Healthcare Consent Management API to complement existing frameworks, making data privacy and consent management easier to implement in emerging healthcare use cases. We invite you to explore the Public Preview today.

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