Google has launched a new cloud application programming interface (API) that aims to address interoperability challenges in the healthcare industry.

Cloud Healthcare API is an open-source tool designed to enable healthcare providers to collect and manage various types of medical data via the cloud, including DICOM, HL7 and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards.

Google hopes the API will provide a jumping-off point for healthcare organisations to launch analytics and machine-learning projects in the cloud, using data aggregated from multiple clinical systems.

Healthcare providers will be able to run analytics on this data to identify patterns that could help improve patient outcomes.

Machine learning has already demonstrated its ability to support clinical decision-making, identify at-risk patients and improve the effectiveness of clinical trials.

In a post published on the Google Cloud blog, Dr Gregory Moore, vice president of healthcare at Google Cloud, said: “Our goal with the Cloud Healthcare API is to help transform the healthcare industry through the use of cloud technologies and machine learning.

“Healthcare is increasingly moving to the cloud, and the adoption of machine learning will allow the industry to unlock insights that can lead to significant clinical improvements for patients.”

The Cloud Healthcare API is currently available in an early access release, with Google planning to roll it out to more customers and partners over the next 12 months.

The software giant already provides services to a number of major customers in the US, including the Cleveland Clinic, Rush Medical Centre and the Chilean Health Ministry.

Despite this, the company will be jostling for space amongst a number of major computing firms that already offer open-source cloud infrastructure to healthcare partners, including IBM and Microsoft.

Microsoft recently announced a number of projects aimed at empowering healthcare providers with machine learning and cloud capabilities.

Amy Larsen DeCarlo, an analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData, suggested that the success of Google Cloud Healthcare API depended on how easy it would be for customers to use.

DeCarlo added: “While Google is certainly well positioned to serve the healthcare organisations’ data management needs, it is bound to face some very well-resourced rivals including AWS, IBM and Microsoft that are also making significant inroads into the healthcare sector.”