Google introduces Open Health Stack for developers

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Google has announced a new open-source program called Open Health Stack that allows developers to build health-related apps. These tools, unveiled at the company’s special event “The Check Up” this week, include a Software Developer Kit (SDK) for Android and health app design guidelines.

The search giant said the stack is centered around the Fast healthcare interoperability Standards (FHIR) standards. This makes it easier for developers to capture the information and for healthcare professionals to access it. FHIR has been adopted by many major providers of electronic health records (EHRs).

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 make data capture easy; and FHIR Analytics to understand the complex structure of the framework and FHIR Info Gateway to assign role-based access to data to different stakeholders. The last two components are available under early access and Google is developing more features within both.

“This suite of components makes it easier for developers to quickly build apps that give healthcare professionals access to the information and insights they need to make informed decisions,” said Fred Hersch, senior product manager at Google, in a blog post.

To build this stack, Google has worked with the World Health Organization to keep the tools in line with the agency’s recommendations for developing apps on Android. The company also claimed that its developer tools are in line with the Digital Public Goods Alliance’s data privacy best practices.

Google said multiple partners around the world, such as Ona, IPRDSolutions, Arguso and Intelliso, have already built a number of solutions used in Sub-Saharan Africa, India and Southeast Asia.

By comparison, Apple supports FHIR endpoints with its HealthKit API, but it’s not an open source project.

Last year, Google announced a partnership with Samsung to unveil the Health Connect initiative, which allows users to easily share their health and fitness data between apps. While the new Open Health Stack can also be plugged into the Android ecosystem, it’s more about helping health professionals capture and access health data in remote areas.

In addition to these new developer tools, Google today also announced a new search feature for US-based users to help them find health centers that offer free or low-cost care.

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