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Highmark Health to Build Missing Link in Healthcare Delivery with Google Cloud?

Analysis  |  By Mandy Roth  
   January 05, 2021

The Living Health Dynamic Platform will fuel innovation to enable 24/7 care delivery and improve health outcomes.

In concert with Google Cloud, Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health may be building the missing link in healthcare delivery: a technology platform that will provide the advanced analytic and artificial intelligence capabilities to transform the patient and clinician experience.

While the platform will fuel innovation, the initiative involves much more than technology; the Living Health Model will offer a new approach to healthcare. The model aims to connect the payer, provider, and patient in novel ways to improve health outcomes, reduce clinician administrative burdens, and enhance patient engagement. It also will offer an effective way to manage data to promote 24/7 care.  

"We believe that the Living Health Dynamic Platform, which is the technology platform on which this entire experience will be built, will enable a simpler, more seamless, and smarter healthcare interaction," says Highmark Health Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Karen Hanlon.

The project will create 125 new jobs. While the initiative includes a six-year partnership with Google Cloud, Hanlon says the first iteration of the platform will be functional in about a year.

During the past 18 months, Highmark has been piloting an "analog" proof of concept, according to Highmark Health Executive Vice President and Chief Medical and Clinical Transformation Officer, Tony Farah, MD, FACC, FSCAI, who is also a practicing cardiologist.

The pilot involved addressing healthcare for multiple patient populations including high-risk patients with multiple co-morbidities, as well as individual chronic conditions including COPD, heart failure, diabetes, and hypertension. Physicians were asked to improve health outcomes in 12 months.

"The patient experience went through the roof and in almost every case—with the exception of diabetes— … the total cost of care came down," says Farah. "I would say the physician engagement was our secret sauce."

Hanlon says the technology platform will amplify these efforts through analytics and artificial intelligence machine learning tools that will assess all data sources to prompt and promote the "next best action" for the clinician and the coordinated health team.

"We're actually moving care upstream," says Farah. "The way we're doing it is by getting the information that physicians don't normally have access to because, let's face it, health evolves 24/7. It doesn't evolve only when you're at the hospital or in front of the physician. We're providing the clinicians with the appropriate information that's actionable that allows them to act on it." In addition, by building prior authorizations into the system, Highmark Health expects to streamline processes for physicians and patients.

Another expected benefit of the platform is that rather than approaching diseases and conditions individually, the system provides a way to manage all issues simultaneously, Hanlon says. In addition, it will combine the power of data from thousands of consumers on Highmark's insurance roles who have multiple complex conditions.

"We have the benefit of being an integrated payer and provider," says Hanlon. "The idea of bringing the solutions related to [multiple] conditions together and guiding the entirety of the person's health plan based on a view across all of those conditions is a differentiator."

Hanlon continues, "We have a pretty good-sized footprint in our health plan. We feel that we can do this ourselves and some of it can become a model for others. No one has done this before, but we believe that we're in a position where we can do it."

According to Highmark Health the agreement with Google Cloud includes:

  • Construction of a highly secure and scalable platform built on Google Cloud 
  • Application of Google Cloud’s advanced analytic and artificial intelligence capabilities to supercharge Highmark Health’s existing clinical and technology capabilities
  • Engagement of a highly skilled professional services team that will collaborate to drive rapid innovation
  • Use of Google Cloud’s healthcare specific solutions, including the Google Cloud Healthcare API, to enable rapid innovation, interoperability, and a seamless Living Health experience

“The idea of bringing the solutions related to [multiple] conditions together and guiding the entirety of the person's health plan based on a view across all of those conditions is a differentiator.”

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.


The model connects providers, patients, and payers in novel ways.

By moving care upstream, a pilot improved the patient experience and reduced costs in nearly every case.

The platform provides a way to guide care for patients with multiple complex diseases and conditions.

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