Tech Companies Earn White House Praise for Committing to Easier Health Data Access

Major technology companies on Monday announced their commitment to making it easier to share data across the healthcare sector, in a move backed by the White House.

The companies said that they’re pushing to make data more accessible for the healthcare industry and providers, with the intention of reducing costs by improving ease of access.

Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle, along with the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), all pledged their support to improving healthcare data interoperability. The pledges came during Monday’s Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference.

“Today’s announcements represent a watershed moment toward fostering more innovation in America’s healthcare systems,” White House senior advisor Matt Lira said in a statement to The Hill.

Experts say medical data is often splintered across databases and hard to access for patients and healthcare providers.

Greg Moore, an MD and Vice President of Healthcare at Google Cloud, told The Hill that a lot of healthcare data has been digitized over the past decade, but “unfortunately it’s in silos.

“We’ve collected and digitized all this data but it’s not communicating with another,” Moore explained. “If you go to one provider on one side of town, there is not an easy way in most cases for a provider to access that information.”

The goal, Moore said, is to use systems like Google’s Cloud and other cloud computing and artificial intelligence services to help foster a“frictionless” exchange of x-ray data, lab data, medical claims and other types of healthcare data between patients, providers and other organizations.

Moore said that having the White House’s Office of American Innovation backing the plan is helpful in building momentum towards improving healthcare interoperability.

Dean Garfield, president and CEO of ITI, also praised the White House’s work on the issue.

“The Office of American Innovation has really stepped up here. These are multi-generational issues,” he said. “Rather than reinvent the wheel, they’ve done a lot of working building on things the Obama administration had done and they deserve credit for that.”

President Obama had pushed for data interoperability during his presidency, but came up short.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has criticized the Trump administration’s previous plans to improve data interoperability as to vague to make any real change.

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