Google introduces Open Health Stack to developers
Image sources: Brian Heater
Google announced Open Health Stack, a new open-source program for developers to build health-related apps. These tools, which were unveiled at the company’s “The Check Up” special event this week, include a software development kit (SDK) for Android, as well as guidelines for designing healthcare apps.
The search giant said the stack is centered on the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Standards (FHIR) standards. This makes it easier for developers to get information and for healthcare workers to access it. FHIR has been adopted by many major electronic health record (EHR) providers.
The Open Health Stack gives developers access to the Android FHIR SDK to build secure apps that work offline; a design guide to help developers simplify data capture; and FHIR Analytics to gain insight into the complex structure of the framework, and FHIR Info Gateway provides role-based access to data for various stakeholders. The last two components are available in early access, and Google is developing additional features within both.
“This set of components makes it easy for developers to quickly create applications that enable healthcare professionals to access the information and data they need to make informed decisions,” Fred Hersch, Google’s senior product manager, said in a blog post.
To build this stack, Google partnered with the World Health Organization to keep tools under the agency’s recommendations for Android app development. The company also claimed that the developer tools are in line with the Digital Public Goods Alliance privacy best practices.
Google said several global partners such as Ona, IPRDSolutions, Arguso and Intelliso have already developed some of the solutions that are being used in sub-Saharan Africa, India and Southeast Asia.
In comparison, Apple supports FHIR endpoints with its HealthKit API, but it is not an open source project.
Last year, Google announced a partnership with Samsung to introduce the Health Connect initiative, which allowed users to easily share their health and fitness data between apps. Although the new Open Health Stack is also connected to the Android ecosystem, it is more about supporting healthcare workers in capturing and accessing health data in remote areas.
Today, in addition to new developer tools, Google announced a new search feature for US users to help them find health centers that offer free or low-cost care.