Highmark Health, one of the nation’s most prominent healthcare organizations, is partnering with Google Cloud to develop generative AI focused solutions. The Highmark network has a significant footprint, serving nearly 40 million Americans across 50 states and employing nearly 35,000 people. The company’s dynamic presence and impact across numerous communities is due in large part to the organization’s investments in optimizing its care delivery mechanism as a means to improve both physician and patient experiences.

A notable part of this commitment is its partnership with Google Cloud to invest in, further build out, and scale Highmark’s clinical and technological capabilities, especially given Google Cloud’s remarkable growth and success in the generative AI space.

Richard Clark, Chief Analytics Officer at Highmark Health, explains that the possibilities with this partnership and technology are numerous. Specifically, he explains that true redesign of the healthcare system requires putting the member and the clinician at the center and being thoughtful about their needs. This should be done to ultimately make their experiences more seamless, personalized, and proactive, thereby creating genuinely better outcomes and affordability.

He also describes Highmark’s leap into the world of generative AI, and how it started with “test cases using publicly available information with regards to using large language models.” Specifically, one use case he talks about is “taking member materials for patients in [the Highmark] health system or health plan, and personalizing them at scale.” He describes how “content generation and content curation is a bottle neck, and with generative AI, these can be personalized at scale.” Additionally, another point of value he mentions is “[making] information for providers more searchable and more interactive, so that they can find the information more easily and provide better care for our members.”

Indeed, Google Cloud’s platform is incredibly advanced and provides many opportunities for its users. Vertex AI, for example, is a machine learning platform that lets users train and deploy ML models and AI applications, and additionally, enables large language models (LLMs) to be used in native applications.

Amy Waldron, Global Director of Healthcare Strategy & Solutions at Google Cloud, explains that currently, there is an unprecedented volume of engagement within the healthcare and life-sciences fields around generative AI, given the exponential returns and value that this technology can enable. “There is significant potential for search and conversational AI tools in helping people interact with content better. It improves engagement for providers and for the end users, promotes transparency, and ultimately, increases access to care.”

For example, AI tools may help free up physician time that would otherwise be used for documentation or on tasks that can be automated; this time can instead be used to see more patients, and directly provide more access to care.

“This is why we are seeing such a rapid interest for people to access these tools— they can truly make a difference for clinicians and for patients.”

She also thoughtfully explains that Google Cloud is incredibly mindful of keeping the human in the loop and building out these use cases with strict adherence to responsible AI frameworks. “When looking at generative AI, we still need to think about the basics: look at the quality of the data, understand how to activate these capabilities carefully, and finally, thoughtfully integrate [the technology] into the clinical workflows. The last thing we need is something that disturbs rather than disrupts.”

Richard also explains that Highmark is committed to thoughtfully launching these new tools and capabilities. He specifically discusses how change management is one of the most critical aspects to this process: “this technology will transform how people will work… and there are huge challenges in scaling technology and change; it’s not always about imagining the next use case; the execution and ability to scale are really important.”

As both executives suggest, there is still a significant amount of work to be done in this space, and the future of both this technology and its role in care delivery is still being discerned. However, one thing is certain: the impact of this technology and how it can potentially provide significant value to millions of people, if developed and scaled correctly, cannot be underestimated.

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