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A responsible path to generative AI in healthcare

April 13, 2023
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Aashima Gupta

Global Director of Healthcare Strategy & Solutions, Google Cloud

Amy Waldron

Global Director of Health Plan Strategy & Solutions, Google Cloud

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Healthcare breakthroughs change the world and bring hope to humanity through scientific rigor, human insight, and compassion. We believe AI can contribute to this, with thoughtful collaboration between researchers, healthcare organizations and the broader ecosystem. 

Today, we're sharing exciting progress on these initiatives, with the announcement of limited access to Google’s medical large language model, or LLM, called Med-PaLM 2. It will be available in coming weeks to a select group of Google Cloud customers for limited testing, to explore use cases and share feedback as we investigate safe, responsible, and meaningful ways to use this technology. 

Med-PaLM 2 harnesses the power of Google’s LLMs, aligned to the medical domain to more accurately and safely answer medical questions. As a result, Med-PaLM 2 was the first LLM to perform at an “expert” test-taker level performance on the MedQA dataset of US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)-style questions, reaching 85%+ accuracy, and it was the first AI system to reach a passing score on the MedMCQA dataset comprising Indian AIIMS and NEET medical examination questions, scoring 72.3%.

Industry-tailored LLMs like Med-PaLM 2 are part of a burgeoning family of generative AI technologies that have the potential to significantly enhance healthcare experiences. We’re looking forward to working with our customers to understand how Med-PaLM 2 might be used to facilitate rich, informative discussions, answer complex medical questions, and find insights in complicated and unstructured medical texts. They might also explore its utility to help draft short- and long-form responses and summarize documentation and insights from internal data sets and bodies of scientific knowledge.

Innovating responsibly with AI

Since last year, we’ve been researching and evaluating Med-PaLM and Med-PaLM 2, assessing it against multiple criteria — including scientific consensus, medical reasoning, knowledge recall, bias, and likelihood of possible harm — which were evaluated by clinicians and non-clinicians from a range of backgrounds and countries. 

Med-PaLM 2's impressive performance on medical exam-style questions is a promising development, but we need to learn how this can be harnessed to benefit healthcare workers, researchers, administrators, and patients. In building Med-PaLM 2, we’ve been focused on safety, equity, and evaluations of unfair bias. Our limited access for select Google Cloud customers will be an important step in furthering these efforts, bringing in additional expertise across the healthcare and life sciences ecosystem. 

What’s more, when Google Cloud brings new AI advances to our products, our commitment is two-fold: to not only deliver transformative capabilities, but also ensure our technologies include proper protections for our organizations, their users, and society. To this end, our AI Principles, established in 2017, form a living constitution that guides our approach to building advanced technologies, conducting research, and drafting our product development policies. 

From AI to generative AI 

Google's deep history in AI informs our work in generative AI technologies, which can find complex relationships in large sets of training data, then generalize from what they learn to create new data. Breakthroughs such as the Transformer have enabled LLMs and other large models to scale to billions of parameters, letting generative AI move beyond the limited pattern-spotting of earlier AIs and into the creation of novel expressions of content, from speech to scientific modeling. 

Google Cloud is committed to bringing to market products that are informed by our research efforts across Alphabet. In 2022, we introduced a deep integration between Google Cloud and Alphabet's AI research organizations, which allows Vertex AI to run DeepMind's groundbreaking protein structure prediction system, AlphaFold.

Much more is on the way. In one sense, generative AI is revolutionary. In another, it's the familiar technology story of more and better computing creating new industries, from desktop publishing to the internet, social networks, mobile apps, and now, generative AI.

Building on AI leadership

Additionally, today we’re announcing a new AI-enabled Claims Acceleration Suite, designed to streamline processes for health insurance prior authorization and claims processing. The Claims Acceleration Suite helps both providers of insurance plans and healthcare to create operational efficiencies and reduce administrative burdens and costs by converting unstructured data into structured data that help experts make faster decisions and improve access to timely patient care. 

On the clinical side, last year we announced Medical Imaging Suite, an AI-assisted diagnosis technology being used by Hologic to improve cervical cancer diagnoses and Hackensack Meridian Health to predict metastasis in patients with prostate cancer. Elsewhere, Mayo Clinic and Google have collaborated on an AI algorithm to improve the care of head and neck cancers, and Google Health recently partnered with iCAD to improve breast cancer screening with AI.

From these examples and more, it's clear that the healthcare industry has moved from testing AI to deploying it to improve workflows, solve business problems, and speed healing. With this in mind, we expect rapid interest in and uptake of generative AI technologies. Healthcare organizations are eager to learn about generative AI and how they can use it to make a real difference.

Looking ahead

The power of AI has reinforced Google Cloud's commitment to privacy, security, and transparency. Our platforms are designed to be flexible, including data and model lineage capabilities, integrated security and identity management services, support for third-party models, choice and transparency on models and costs, integrated billing and entitlement support, and support across many languages. 

While we’ll have some innovations like Med-PaLM 2 that are tuned for healthcare, we also have products that are relevant across industries. Last month, we announced several generative AI capabilities coming to Google Cloud, including Generative AI support in Vertex AI and Generative AI App Builder, which are already being tested by a number of customers. Developers and businesses already use Vertex AI to build and deploy machine learning models and AI applications at scale, and we recently added Generative AI support in Vertex AI. This gives customers foundation models they can fine-tune with their own data, and the ability to deploy applications with this powerful new technology. We also launched Generative AI App Builder to help organizations build their own AI-powered chat interfaces and digital assistants in minutes or hours by connecting conversational AI flows with out-of-the-box search experiences and foundation models.

As AI proves its value, it's likely there will be increased focus on high-quality data collection and curation in healthcare and life sciences. Improving the flow and unification of data across health care systems, referred to as data interoperability, is one of the most important building blocks to leveraging AI, and it helps organizations run more effectively, improve patient care, and helps people live healthier lives. We expect to continue our investments in technology, infrastructure, and data governance.

We're committed to realizing the potential of this technology in healthcare. By working with a handful of trusted healthcare organizations early on, we’ll learn more about what can be achieved, and how this technology can safely advance. For all of us, the prospects are inspiring, humbling, and exciting. 

If you’re interested in exploring generative AI on Cloud, you can sign-up for our Trusted Tester program or reach out to your Google Cloud sales representative.

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