Google formed a silent partnership with Ascension last year – the country's second-largest healthcare system – and has since gained access, according to a report The November 11 Wall Street Journal on detailed medical records on tens of millions of Americans.
The project, codenamed "Project Nightingale," has enabled at least 150 Google employees to view health information for patients. These include diagnoses, laboratory test results, records of hospitalizations and other data, according to internal documents and the sources of the newspaper. Overall, the data are complete medical records, notes from the WSJ and details of patient names and dates of birth.
The move is the latest from Google to help manage the expanding healthcare industry. Earlier this month, Google announced a purchase agreement for Fitbit raising concerns about the impact on all sensitive health data from its popular wearables. Today's news is likely to raise more concerns about health issues.
Neither Google nor Ascension has informed patients or doctors about the data exchange. Ascension, a Catholic non-profit healthcare system, has 34,000 providers and targets multiple patients in more than 2,600 hospitals, medical practices, and other facilities in 21 states and the District of Columbia. For Google, the company is developing new software that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to make treatment proposals for individual patients. Google's ultimate goal is to develop a searchable cloud-based tool to host and investigate large volumes of patient data that can then be marketed to other healthcare systems.
Ascension aims in part to improve patient care with the project. Internal documents viewed by WSJ indicate that Ascension also hopes Google Mining will help identify additional ways to generate revenue from patients, such as: B. ordering additional medical tests.
Transformation of Care
In a statement, Ascensions hopes Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, Eduardo Conrado, said:
As the health environment continues to evolve rapidly, we need to change to meet the needs and expectations of those that we serve, as well as better serving our own carers and healthcare providers. This requires the programmatic integration of new care models delivered through the digital platforms, applications and services that are part of our customers' everyday experience.
Tariq Shaukat, president of Google Cloud, added in the statement, "By partnering with Google, Google hopes to improve the delivery of health services through the cloud, data analytics, machine learning and advanced productivity tools, and ultimately the results to improve, reduce costs and save lives ".
Both Google and Ascension said the project complied with federal data protection regulations "based on solid privacy efforts".
Health experts told WSJ that the project appears to be legal under the Portability and Accountability Act of the Federal Health Insurance Act of 1996 (HIPPA). As the paper notes, "The law generally allows hospitals to share data with business partners without telling patients, as long as the information is' only used to help the recorded facility perform its health functions."