Google-Ascension Cloud Computing Deal Triggers Federal Inquiry in the US

Ruben Fields
November 18, 2019

The Wall Street Journal revealed Project Nightingale, a joint effort between Google and Ascension that gave the former access to patient information from more than 2,600 hospitals.

Ascension, which operates 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities across United States, said the partnership is in compliance with the USA data privacy act HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which safeguards medical information.

It's no secret that Google has lofty ambitions about entering the health care industry.

They have voiced concerns over the way it has been harvested, despite it being legal.

Google has been making some aggressive moves to penetrate further into the healthcare market. The software would be able to read scanned images like MRIs and upload related data to a central network that can be accessed by both Ascension and Google personnel.

Google is reportedly gathering health information of millions of USA citizens - without informing them or their doctors - to design an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven software, the media reported.

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In brief: Google has been quietly gathering detailed health record information on millions of Americans without informing patients and doctors.

The initiative was first struck past year, according to WSJ, and provides Google with access to medical data including diagnoses, lab results, birth dates, patients' names, and other health data. Patients and doctors were apparently not notified. As many as 150 Google staffers had access to the data, according to the report.

The Journal said that "Neither doctors nor patients have been formally notified of the arrangement" and that Google and Ascension began the project "in secret previous year".

Tariq Shaukat, president of Google Cloud, added in the statement that, by working in partnerships, Google hopes "to transform the delivery of healthcare through the power of the cloud, data analytics, machine learning, and modern productivity tools-ultimately improving outcomes, reducing costs, and saving lives".

Google said its work with Ascension is similar to what it was already doing with "dozens of other health care providers". That echoes Google's blog post about the partnership, where it assured people that it adheres to HIPAA.

In its press release, Google maintained that its work complies with industry regulations.

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