Mayo Clinic picks Google for data storage as firms announce broader partnership

Christopher Snowbeck, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mayo Clinic and Google announced a partnership Tuesday to develop ways for cloud computing, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve health care.

The agreement is a key part of the plan by Mayo's new CEO to position the Rochester-based health care system as a platform that connects seriously ill patients with the best treatments.

Financial terms were not disclosed. As part of the 10-year agreement, Google said it will open an office in Rochester that's staffed with some of the company's engineers.

"If this is done well, we believe we'll have the opportunity to bring some transformative kinds of answers to patients," Christopher Ross, Mayo's chief information officer, said in an interview. "And we think we'll be able to increase innovation substantially."

Ross added, "We can put Mayo scientists next to Google scientists to help us create more insights and more breakthroughs."

Mayo Clinic is Minnesota's largest private employer and a marquee name in health care across the country. Last year, the clinic posted income of $706 million on $12.6 billion in revenue.

Google is known for its popular internet search engine and has developed a variety of related businesses including a division for cloud computing services. The company also has made a series of moves in the past year to develop its health care offerings.

Last year, Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. posted earnings of $8.2 billion on $39.3 billion in revenue.

"Health care is one of the most important fields that technology will help transform over the next decade, and it's a major area of investment for Google," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement.


As part of the agreement, Google Cloud will secure, manage and store the clinic's data. Mayo and Google will work on research projects that look at how artificial intelligence and other computing technologies might help solve complex health problems.

"We are going to be putting essentially all of our data in the Google Cloud for many years," Ross said. He added, "This will be a job-generating activity as we do more scientific research together."

Mayo says it will continue to manage and control access and use of patient data. Data used in research would not include patient identities and be conducted according to "rigorous long-standing institutional controls," the clinic said in a statement.

Earlier this year, new Mayo Clinic chief executive Gianrico Farrugia said the clinic already has about 200 projects underway looking at how artificial intelligence can help improve patient care. Development of those technologies, and establishing Mayo Clinic as a platform that connects patients with sophisticated treatments, are key goals, Farrugia said in interviews with the Star Tribune. At the time, he said selecting a technology partner would be one of the first big steps for Mayo.

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