Google Maps Platform offers businesses unprecedented capabilities to improve efficiency, make better decisions, and engage customers. But it also has an unparalleled potential to improve healthcare in a variety of ways. In this post, we’ll cover some recent inspiring examples of how Google Maps Platform can foster healthier outcomes for all.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
The opioid crisis is a problem too big to be ignored. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that opioids accounted for over 130 fatal drug overdoses every day. As a result, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency.
With 53 percent of prescription drug abuse cases beginning with drugs obtained from friends or family, Google partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to get to the root of the problem. Together, they developed a Google Maps API locator tool that helped people dispose of prescription drugs at temporary locations. The event was a monumental success; the DEA ultimately collected a total of 1.85 million pounds of unused prescription drugs.
But the opioid crisis still remains. Google realized that search queries for “medication disposal near me” had reached an all-time high recently. Unfortunately, people were still having trouble safely removing unused or excess opioids from their home.
To help out, Google made the drug disposal location finder a permanent fixture of Google Maps. The new feature has extensive data of public and private disposal locations. Google Maps directs users to the closest disposal site when they simply search for “medication disposal near me” or “drug drop off near me.” Google is working closely with the DEA to expand the coverage of this pilot program.
Connecting Patients, Physicians, and Pharmacies Faster
In a typical large city in the United States, it takes an average of 24 days to schedule an appointment and see a physician. Telemedicine company Doctor On Demand knew this needed to change, so it set out to connect patients, physicians, and pharmacies more efficiently.
Today, the organization provides fast, simple, and cost-effective access to some of the best healthcare providers in the country. And the Google Maps Platform is at the heart of its solution.
To comply with medical regulations, Doctor On Demand’s app needs to connect patients with providers that are licensed in the same state they’re located in. Google Maps makes it easy to accurately determine the patient’s location before connecting them with the correct physician.
Doctor On Demand took things a step further by enabling patients to see a map of nearby pharmacies prior to their video call. This streamlines the process of connecting physicians to pharmacy locations that are convenient for patients to pick up their prescriptions. Staying up to date with pharmacy locations is no problem— Google Maps maintains location accuracy by updating the geolocation information for more than 65,000 pharmacies across the United States each night.
Google Maps made Doctor On Demand’s vision for faster healthcare possible. And the company is already thinking of new ways to leverage the platform, like plotting and sharing cold and flu outbreak data with patients and doctors.
Paving the Way Toward a Healthier Future
A mere distance of eight miles can impact a person’s life expectancy by up to 21 years. A stark gap like this illustrates the role that socioeconomic status and neighborhood can play when it comes to life expectancy. Geography’s impact on health cannot be overstated— it determines whether you have ready access to quality healthcare, pharmacies, health-oriented community programs, clean water, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Recognizing these gaps in patient populations, healthcare providers are starting to focus more on incorporating the social determinants of health (SDOH) into their care management plans in order to generate better outcomes. Over 80 percent of health plans now incorporate SDOH into their programs and pilot projects.
By expanding their scope to include SDOH, there has been an increased interest in determining at-risk and in-need populations. To accomplish this, healthcare organizations are using Google Maps to improve their SDOH strategy. With the right data in hand, healthcare organizations can assess the main social determinants of an area with heat maps overlaid with patient populations. Machine learning could analyze this overlap in data and identify any gaps in support.
From there, local regions could be segmented into persona clusters. This makes it possible to address the most pressing challenges of each area through personalized care plans. It also provides patients with what they need to prevent unhealthy outcomes. Additionally, it would keep plan management practical and streamlined for providers.
Lastly, by combining Google Maps and machine learning, healthcare organizations could adapt to ever-changing needs. Aligning resources, such as food banks and social workers, and addressing challenges like transportation are some of the most difficult aspects of managing SDOH. But with real-time updates from maps and machine learning, providers can adjust faster and more efficiently.
The use cases discussed are really just the tip of the iceberg. Google Cloud solutions like the Google Maps Platform have a profound potential to improve healthcare in a myriad of ways.
By understanding the capabilities and benefits that Google Maps can provide, healthcare organizations are able to revisit long-standing obstacles and solve them once and for all. In turn, this is making it possible for better outcomes for all stakeholders involved.