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Google Cloud’s Toby Cosgrove on data and AI changes in health care

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Earlier this year, Toby Cosgrove became an executive advisor to the Google Cloud health care team after a long and distinguished tenure at the Cleveland Clinic. He’s taking some of the lessons learned at the latter to help his new employer effect big changes to health care.

He explained to Imagala.com that there was a tremendous opportunity when it comes to storing, accessing and analyzing data.

“As you look at health care, we have got a problem and a curse in the fact that we have an explosion in the amount of knowledge there is in health care. For example, there are 5,800 medical journals that are turning out 800,000 articles a year,” Cosgrove told Imagala.com’s “On the Money” recently.

“There’s an enormous amount of data and it’s a problem for us to keep track of and that’s why I think the cloud is going to come in,” he added. “As the data goes to the cloud all the major cloud providers have come to an agreement that they will share unidentified information.”

This means that doctors and researchers will be able to dig deeply to find trends, and solve problems without risking someone’s privacy.

“So now you can have huge data sets that you can begin to analyze, and now that’s where AI and machine learning comes in,” Cosgrove told Imagala.com.

He said this can potentially help in ways such as prescribing the right hypertensive medication, which varies from person to person, by looking at how a certain dosage affects a large number of people with similar characteristics.

He also believes that this will cut down time for drug trials, and bring medicines to the market more rapidly.

As for what’s ahead for 2019, Cosgrove said telehealth technology will become more ubiquitous. While the technology already exists, he says many people don’t know about it. Telehealth technology connects patients to health care services through videoconferencing, remote monitoring, and electronic consults.

For instance, instead of going to a doctor’s physical office, a patient can video-conference a doctor through their cellphone or tablet. This saves a trip to the doctor’s office and saves time getting the medicine prescribed and sent to the pharmacy.

He said it’s a huge benefit for people who don’t live near a doctor or specialist, or for folks who need constant monitoring without having to stay in a hospital.

“Kaiser is seeing over 50 percent of their patients distantly,” said Dr. Cosgrove.

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