Overview of the Cloud Healthcare API

Overview

The Cloud Healthcare API provides industry-standard protocols and formats for ingesting, storing, analyzing, and integrating healthcare data with cloud-based applications. The API can be used for healthcare machine learning applications, data-level integration of healthcare systems, and secure storage and retrieval of various types of healthcare and life science data, including electronic protected health information (ePHI) and other forms of PII.

For many applications, the Cloud Healthcare API can provide a cloud-based alternative to on-premise stacks implementing DICOM, HL7v2, or FHIR STU3 standards. This can simplify data integration with existing systems and allow developers to focus on differentiating features, such as UX and intelligence.

Data model

The API comprises three modalities that implement individual industry-wide standards:

  • Medical imaging data in the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) format
  • Clinical event messages in the Health Level Seven Version 2.x (HL7v2) format
  • Clinical resources in the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) format

Each modality has different structural and processing characteristics, but they are all backed by a standards-compliant data store that provides read, write, search, and other operations on the data.

The data stores corresponding to each modality reside in datasets, which are containers in your Google Cloud Platform (GCP) project that hold modality-specific healthcare data.

For more information, see Projects, datasets, and data stores.

Features of the Cloud Healthcare API

This section describes the features that make up the Cloud Healthcare API and the primary purpose of each feature.

Standards conformance

The Cloud Healthcare API implements a REST API for multiple healthcare modalities. For example, the FHIR portion of the REST API conforms to STU3, a version of the FHIR specification, and the DICOM portion of the REST API conforms to DICOMweb, a web-based standard for exchanging medical images.

Compliance with privacy regulations

The Cloud Healthcare API is covered by GCP’s security, privacy, and compliance assessments/certifications for industry standards, such as:

  • ISO 27001
  • ISO 27017
  • ISO 27018
  • PCI DSS

The Cloud Healthcare API is a covered service under the GCP HIPAA BAA, which means that customers can use it in conjunction with electronic protected health information (ePHI), with appropriate configuration. The Cloud Healthcare API has been developed according to Google’s security and privacy practices.

GCP provides detailed guidance regarding compliance with HIPAA in the US, the PIPEDA in Canada, and other global privacy standards.

Data location control

Data location is a core component of the API. You have the option to select the storage location for each dataset from a list of currently available locations that correspond to distinct geographic areas aligned with GCP’s regional structure. Data stores can exist only in the same region as their parent dataset.

For more information, see Regions.

Security

The Cloud Healthcare API security model is based on Google’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) system. IAM’s fine-grained permissions give you complete control over what can be done with healthcare data, and by whom. In addition, there are implementations of open-source proxies for the Apigee API Management system, which provides comprehensive threat detection and traffic management capabilities that allow you to securely expose sensitive ePHI with patient and provider applications.

Bulk import and export

The Cloud Healthcare API’s DICOM and FHIR modalities support bulk import and export of data, making it easier to transfer data to and from Cloud Storage.

You can also export FHIR resources and DICOM store metadata to BigQuery. This lets you perform advanced data discovery and analytics workloads on large datasets.

For more information, see Importing and exporting DICOM data and Exporting DICOM metadata.

Data de-identification

The Cloud Healthcare API provides support for de-identifying data at the dataset level. This simplifies the process of redacting sensitive information for research and other purposes. For more information, see Data de-identification.

Auditability

You can use Stackdriver to audit administrative and data access requests.

For more information, see Access control and Viewing Cloud Audit Logs.

High performance

Using GCP’s high-performance technology, the Cloud Healthcare API can scale to thousands of requests per second, even when accessing very large volumes of data.

High availability

Availability for mission-critical scenarios is made possible through GCP’s robust and highly redundant infrastructure.

Durability

Cloud Healthcare API is designed for 99.999999999% annual durability. This is achieved by storing data across multiple disks located in different power and network failure domains.

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