Google's announcement of a partnership with a major healthcare provider raises fresh privacy concerns as the tech company expands its footprint into the healthcare industry. Monday's announcement comes after the Wall Street Journal revealed Google had won access to health-related information of millions of Americans across 21 states through the partnership with Ascension – the second-largest healthcare system in the US. The Journal reported that the data involved in the project includes lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, including patient names and dates of birth. The collaboration, code-named "Project Nightingale", began in secret last year, according to the Journal. Google's parent company, Alphabet, on Monday officially signed Ascension, its biggest cloud computing customer in healthcare yet.
REUTERS: Alphabet Inc's Google signed its biggest cloud computing customer in healthcare yet, according to an announcement on Monday (Nov 11), gaining with the deal datasets that could help it tune potentially lucrative artificial intelligence tools. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported Google teaming up with Ascension to collect personal health-related information of millions of Americans across 21 states. The partnership will also explore artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to help improve clinical effectiveness as well as patient safety, Ascension said in a statement. Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian has made it a priority in his first year on the job to aggressively chase business from leaders in six industries, including healthcare. The company previously had touted smaller healthcare clients, such as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine.
David Feinberg, Google's Vice President of Healthcare, recently described "a search bar on top of ... [ ] your [electronic health records] that needs no training," on stage at a conference in Las Vegas. Google is testing a service that would use its search and artificial intelligence technology to analyze patient records for Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S., according to documents about the efforts reviewed by Forbes. Called "'Nightingale," the Google-Ascension project indicates that Google's push into health analysis is farther along than previously believed, even as the company has faced a growing backlash over health-related privacy concerns. Ascension said in a statement that all its work with Google complies with privacy law and is "underpinned by a robust data security and protection effort, which Google echoed in its own blog post later Monday, including that "patient data cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data. " The Wall Street Journal first published details of the Ascension partnership earlier on Monday.
Fox News Flash top headlines for Nov. 11 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com Google has come under scrutiny after a report in The Wall Street Journal noted that a newly signed cloud computing deal with a healthcare customer could give the tech giant "detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states." The deal, which was previously announced on Google parent company Alphabet's July earnings call, is with St. Louis-based Ascension, a Catholic health system non-profit that says it is "committed to providing compassionate, personalized healthcare services" for individuals and communities. In a blog post published after The Journal report, Google's Tariq Shaukat defended the deal and shed additional light on it.
Google secretly gathered millions of patient records across 21 states on behalf of a health care provider, in an effort dubbed "Project Nightingale," reports The Wall Street Journal. Neither the provider's doctors nor patients were made aware of the effort, according to the report. The Wall Street Journal's Rob Copeland wrote that the data amassed in the program includes "lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, complete with patient names and dates of birth," and that as many as 150 Google employees may have had access to the data. The New York Times corroborated much of the report later in the day, writing that "dozens of Google employees" may have access to sensitive patient data, and that there are concerns that some Google employees may have downloaded some of that data. But Google tells The Verge that despite the surprise, it's standard industry practice for a health care provider to share highly sensitive health records with tech workers under an agreement like the kind it signed -- one that narrowly allows Google to build tools for that health care provider by using the private medical data of its patients, and one that doesn't require patients to be notified, the company claims.