Google is teaming up with the largest doctor group for a medical data challenge

Key Points
  • Google and AMA want to unlock patients' valuable health data.
  • The challenge, which kicks off on Monday, is revealing of Alphabet's broader health ambitions.
  • Amazon launched its own challenge with Merck in 2017 to better manage care for people with diabetes.
Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene, center.
Andrew Evers | CNBC

Google is teaming up with the American Medical Association, a physician lobbying group, on a plan to get start-ups to come up with the "best new ideas for fostering data sharing from health monitoring devices."

Ideas for the challenge might include a mobile app or wearable device that can make it easier for people with a chronic disease to share data with their doctor, the AMA said on Monday.

"The winning entries will demonstrate how the applicant uses patient-generated health data in meaningful ways to have maximum impact on improving physician workflow, improving clinical outcomes, and reducing cost in the health-care system," the statement said.

In an effort to carve out a piece of the $3 trillion health-care market, big tech companies are showing an increased willingness to work with established industry players to promote innovation.

Amazon started an innovation challenge with Merck last year to encourage Alexa developers to come up with so-called "skills" that support people with diabetes, both at the hospital and in the home.

Amazon hasn't shared much about its intentions, but CNBC reported in March about the company's broader goals to develop technology for the aging population. Older people suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases like diabetes, compared to their younger counterparts.

Alphabet has chosen to focus its challenge on the issue of medical data interoperability. The idea is to make it easier for patients and providers to easily share medical data like lab results or imaging in a computer-readable format (not a PDF). Hospitals and their technology vendors have historically chosen to "lock-in" patients to their facilities rather than provide them with easy access to their data.

Apple, through its medical records product, is also focused on solving this problem.

With the Google-AMA challenge, the three best ideas submitted will get a combined $50,000 in credit for Google Cloud.

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