Google tackles Medicaid redeterminations by updating search algorithm


Google is helping people navigate Medicaid redeterminations with the latest update to its search algorithm, the tech giant said Tuesday morning. 

Google announced several new healthcare initiatives at its annual Check Up event on Tuesday. The updates were related to search, artificial intelligence and interoperability. 

Related: Health industry groups to assist Medicaid enrollees losing coverage

The company is tweaking its own search algorithm to provide specific information for users seeking to re-enroll in Medicaid by the end of March. Google said it plans to include state-specific information in these searches.

During the public health emergency, people were not required to re-enroll in Medicaid. At the end of March up to 14 million people will no longer be eligible for Medicaid once states start re-checking individual eligibility, according to HHS. States will begin the process of clearing their rolls April 1.

Google has applied its conversational artificial intelligence technology Duplex to verify healthcare providers’ information and whether they accept certain Medicaid plans. Duplex is a voice-enabled technology tool that has called hundreds of thousands of physicians to get this information, Google said.

The search tools will also provide information to users on community health centers near them that offer free or low-cost care. 

Updates to AI projects 

During the event, Google also provided an update on its AI cancer research projects with Mayo Clinic and other health system partners. With Mayo, the company tested whether it was possible to use AI to automatically contour organs by reading CT scans. The process is typically completed manually. 

Results from this research will be published soon but Google said it is extending the research efforts with Mayo. While each individual project can vary, Google said it is broadly looking for partners to co-develop and test solutions.

“What we want to do is look for opportunities where there’s clear space to demonstrate the value-add of artificial intelligence in that particular application space,” said Greg Corrado, lead of the health AI group at Google.  “A partner who’s keen and is capable to realize those benefits in a co-development setting, or in a technology transfer setting [are also important].” 

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The company is also developing AI tools on its own that demonstrate capabilities in language understanding and generation. Google said the tools need more work as the AI displayed “significant gaps” when it came to answering medical questions. These developments come as ChatGPT and conversational AI tools have become more popular for potential medical uses.

At the event, Google also rolled out a series of components called Open Health Stack that allows developers to build digital health apps on an interoperable data standard.

In August 2021, Google unwound its Google Health division and opted instead to redistribute its health efforts across its research, search and device divisions.

This story first appeared in Digital Health Business & Technology.


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