Google collects personal health information from millions of patients without their knowledge

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The research giant’s secret Nightingale project collating millions of medical records from Ascension hospitals.

According to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article published on November 11, Google is unwittingly collecting health information from millions of Americans through a partnership with Ascension Hospitals in 21 states.

The program, called Project Nightingale, was launched last year in partnership with the Catholic chain of 2,600 hospitals and medical practices, but the WSJ reports that data sharing between companies has started to ramp up over the past year. ‘summer.

Although neither doctors nor their patients have been made aware of the project, “comprehensive health histories” including lab results, diagnoses and hospital records have already been made available to at least 150 Google employees, according to the article. Access was also granted to staff at Google Brain, one of the company’s scientific divisions, according to the report.

After the WSJ published its article on the project, Google and Ascension issued a press release stating that their project complies with federal health law and includes protections for patient data.

The search engine giant is using the massive amount of data to design software that uses advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to focus on individual patients and suggest changes to their care, reports the WSJ.

While the program has raised concerns among Ascension staff about HIPAA privacy regulations, the article quotes anonymous privacy experts who say it appears to be allowed under federal law as long as information is used “only to help the covered entity perform its health care functions;” as the law says.

Google isn’t the only tech company with its eyes on the healthcare market, as the article reports. Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all striving to capture market share, although they haven’t made any deals of a similar size.

Google plans to use the framework developed by dozens of staff assigned to the project to sell similar products to other healthcare systems and to create an “omnibus search tool” to aggregate all records and house them into one. location, the report says.

Ascension wants to improve patient outcomes with a faster EHR, while extracting the data to identify additional tests patients might need and other ways to increase patient income, according to the article.

Google’s collection and use of personal information, as well as the lack of transparency regarding data breaches, have attracted the attention of regulators in recent years.

Google is strengthening its presence in the health sector. He recently announced the $ 2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, a maker of wearable fitness tracking products.


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