Google Cloud Awarded Defense Contract to Prototype AI-Enabled Digital Pathology Solution


The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has awarded a contract with Google Cloud to prototype an AI-enabled digital pathology solution at select DoD facilities. The project includes the delivery of augmented reality microscopes to DoD’s medical facilities and access to artificial intelligence (AI) models that can help military doctors with cancer detection tasks on multiple disease areas. The early access to the digital pathology platform is for research use only. DIU is the organization exclusively focused within the Department of Defense (DoD) on scaling commercial technology across the DoD.

DIU-Google Cloud Project

The goal of the DIU-Google Cloud project is to help improve the accuracy of diagnoses, assisting physicians who face an overwhelming volume of data when making diagnostic and treatment decisions–and helping lower overall healthcare costs. Working with DIU, Google Cloud will prototype the delivery of an augmented reality microscope that overlays AI-based information for doctors, providing pathology-based cancer detection tools at the point-of-care. Google’s approach will leverage TensorFlow, an open-source framework to help deliver machine-learning models as well as the Google Cloud Healthcare API for data ingestion and de-identification to maximize patient privacy.

Rollout Schedule

The initial rollout will take place at select Defense Health Agency treatment facilities and Veteran’s Affairs hospitals in the United States, with future plans to expand across the broader U.S. Military Health System. The AI-based models used to assist doctors as part of the prototype were developed from public and private datasets that were de-identified to remove personal health information and any personally identifiable information. All patient diagnostic data will solely be managed by the individual hospital or provider. Carahsoft Technology, as Google Cloud’s government distributor, played a key role in facilitating this work.

“To effectively treat cancer, speed and accuracy are critical,” said Mike Daniels, vice president, Global Public Sector, Google Cloud. “We are partnering with DIU to provide our machine learning and artificial intelligence technology to help frontline healthcare practitioners learn about capabilities that can improve the lives of our military men and women and their families.”

Carahsoft Technology, as Google Cloud’s government distributor, played a key role in facilitating this work.

The DoD’s Joint AI Center (JAIC) is providing funding for the project and technical expertise. The capabilities will also help support the JAIC’s warfighter health AI product line that aims to improve the diagnostic capability of military medicine.

Why It Matters

The Veterans Affairs Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety recently reported that within the United States, an estimated 5% of outpatient diagnoses are conducted in error. This translates to the misdiagnosis of 12 million patients each year. At the same time, the Defense Health Agency spends approximately $1.7 billion of its annual budget on cancer research, and that figure continues to grow.

This is the second contract that Google has been awarded by DIU in the past three months. In May, the two organizations announced an effort to detect, protect against, and respond to cyber threats globally.