Aashima Gupta works at the intersection of health and technology. As director of global healthcare solutions for Google Cloud, it is her job to push the limits of what’s possible in life sciences. She is responsible for digitally transforming the industry using the tech giant’s cloud technology, artificial intelligence, APIs and mobile solutions in new and unique ways.
But these are just lofty words meant to describe ivory tower ideas about Gupta’s real work. Down in the trenches, she knows she needs to be one step ahead of the tech trends she’s trying to tame. Like many things, the potential and the pitfalls of health technology are closely intertwined and require a fine balance between collaboration and competition.
“I have seen a fundamental shift in how we view the healthcare system in the last decade from one based on sickness and disease to one focused on prevention and wellness. Consider the movement towards ‘value-based care,’ in which doctors and other practitioners are increasingly focused on preventative behavior rather than after-the-fact diagnoses,” Gupta shared in an interview.
“Machine learning and other emerging fields have quickly shifted this from aspirational ideas to concrete projects being deployed in the field,” Gupta added. “Examples range from algorithms that can detect diabetic retinopathy to predictive analytics that prevent hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to healthcare. It’s a landscape literally moving beneath our feet, and it impacts each of us.”
But it’s not smooth sailing for those trying to shape the future or forge their own path. Companies must think beyond their own boundaries to be successful in today’s health tech industry. The rise of cloud-computing and individually-packaged API’s and programs means occasionally playing by other people’s rules.
Healthcare is not known for being an early-adopter of new technology. It’s a highly regulated industry that’s cultivated individual silos of expertise and has a squinty-eyed suspicion about accessing data in unconventional ways. They are risk-adverse and heavily reliant on enterprise solutions that have ‘worked for them’ for the last three decades.
“Data and interoperability sit at the epicenter of these shifts. But major challenges remain, from inadequate EHR interoperability to regulatory and security concerns, to debates about how to best distinguish signal from noise in vast collections of medical data,” Gupta observed. It’s not enough to introduce a way to digitally document patient progress, there must be considerations for how the platform will communicate with other applications that are introduced to the system.
“The right data has to be available at the right place at the right time, before intelligence and efficiency can be applied,” she said. “It is the foundation for everything. How can we take this potential and connectivity and use it to solve these healthcare problems?”
Gupta received her early training in information technology. She graduated from with a Masters of Computer Science from the Institute of Management Technology in Ghaziabad and attended an Executive Medical Education Program from Harvard Medical School specifically designed for Google employees.
She’s held leadership positions at several top tech and investment firms over the course of her career, including Fidelity Investments, JPMorgan Chase, and Kaiser Permanente before moving to Google to become their global head of healthcare solutions with Google Cloud in November 2016. She was promoted to director in November 2018.