The logo of Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in New York City
Google Cloud has announced new generative AI search capabilities for doctors. Reuters

Much to the delight and relief of healthcare workers, Google Cloud recently announced new AI-backed search capabilities that will simplify and expedite the process of accessing information from different data sources.

The new tech will reportedly enable doctors to quickly pull accurate clinical information from a wide range of medical records. Notably, this valuable information is usually stored in hard-to-find systems and formats.

With Google Cloud's new search tool, doctors will be able to effortlessly pull information from electronic health records, scanned documents and clinical notes so it can be accessed in one place.

Furthermore, Google Cloud says the new capabilities will help reduce the amount of time and energy required to access this data.

Senior director of product management for Cloud AI at Google Cloud, Lisa O'Malley told CNBC in an interview: "While it should save time to be able to do that search, it should also prevent frustration on behalf of clinicians and [make] sure that they get to an answer easier."

For example, doctors will not have to read through a patient's electronic health records, faxes and notes separately in a bid to know about them. Instead, they can search for questions such as "how long the patient has been suffering from an illness" and see all the information in one place.

What else can Google's new generative AI do?

According to O'Malley, Google's new search capabilities can also come in handy for a slew of crucial applications such as determining whether patients meet the criteria to enrol in a clinical trial and applying the correct billing codes.

She further claims the newfangled technology is capable of citing and linking to the original source of the information, which is available in an organisation's own internal data. This will assure doctors that the AI isn't generating inaccurate responses.

The search features could also turn out to be useful for healthcare workers who are currently dealing with staffing shortages and are burdened with backbreaking clerical paperwork.

An American Medical Association-funded study in 2016 showed that for every hour a doctor spends with a patient, they spend a couple of additional hours on administrative work.

As per the study, physicians usually end up spending an extra 1 to 2 hours doing clerical work after their working hours, which the industry refers to as "pajama time".

A notable 53 per cent of physicians said they were feeling burned out in 2022, while only 42 per cent of physicians reported feeling overburdened back in 2018, according to a January survey from Medscape.

Can Google's new AI tool help doctors feel less burned out?

The American tech giant believes its search offerings will minimise the amount of time doctors need to find additional records and databases.

"Anything that Google can do by applying our search technologies, our health-care technologies and research capabilities to make the journey of the clinicians and health-care providers and payers more quick, more efficient, saving them cost, I think ultimately benefits us as patients," O'Malley said.

Health and life sciences organisations will be able to access the new features through Google's Vertex AI Search platform. Currently, companies in other industries can use the Vertex AI Search tool to search across various databases, documents and public websites.

In addition to this, Google Cloud currently offers Healthcare API and Healthcare Data Engine tools that help organisations manage and analyse data. Global director of health care strategy and solutions at Google Cloud, Aashima Gupta noted that the new Vertex AI Search capabilities can be seamlessly blended into a clinician's workflow.

The healthcare industry has a reputation for not immediately embracing new technology. Moreover, the adoption can be more challenging if healthcare workers feel the new technology is hard to work with. However, Gupta said Google has been paying close attention to these aspects.

"These are the workflows that the physicians and nurses live by day in and day out. You can't be adding friction to it," Gupta told CNBC in an interview.

"We are very cautious of that — that we are respecting the surface they use, that the workflow doesn't change, but yet they get the power of this technology."

Google is no stranger to using AI to help people improve their health. In line with this, researchers at Google DeepMind introduced a tool that can predict the danger of genetic mutations last month. As if that weren't enough, the company is reportedly testing an AI assistant that will offer life advice.