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Google introduces Open Health Stack for developers

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

The search giant said that the stack is centered around the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards. This makes it easier for developers to capture the information and healthcare workers to access that. FHIR has been adopted by a lot of major electronic health record (EHR) providers.

The Open Health Stack gives developers access to Android FHIR SDK to build secure apps that can also work offline; a design guide to help developers make data capture easy; and FHIR Analytics to derive insights complex structure of the framework and FHIR Info Gateway to assign role-based access of data to various 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 allowing healthcare workers to access the information and insights they need to make informed decisions," Fred Hersch, senior product manager at Google said in a blog post.

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

Google said that multiple partners around the world like Ona, IPRD Solutions, Argusoft, and Intellisoft have already built some solutions that are being used across Sub-Saharan Africa, India and Southeast Asia.

For 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 allowed users to share their health and fitness data across apps easily. While the new Open Health Stack also plugs into the Android ecosystem, it's more about helping healthcare workers capture and access health data in remote areas.

Today, apart from these new developer tools, Google also announced a new search feature for U.S.-based users to help them find health centers that offer free or low-cost care.