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.
Spending for consumer digital healthcare companies is set to explode in the next few years; the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is currently reviewing the requirements for data sharing with the Department of Health and Human Services, and their initiatives will unlock a wave of data access never before seen in the U.S. healthcare system. Already, startups and large technology companies are jockeying for position over how to leverage this access and take advantage of new sensor technologies that provide unprecedented windows into patient health. Venture capital investors are expected to invest roughly $50 billion in approximately 4,500 startups in the healthcare industry, according to data from CB Insights. In all, there have been 3,409 investments made in the healthcare market through the third quarter of 2019, with 31% of those deals done in what CB Insights identifies as digital health companies. The explosion of data is unprecedented and already companies like Apple and Google are jockeying for control over how that data will be served up to healthcare practitioners and patients.
Google is collecting detailed health data on millions of Americans through a partnership with Ascension, the nation's second-largest health care system, according to a report Monday by The Wall Street Journal. The initiative, called Project Nightingale, collects information from people across 21 states, including data on lab results, diagnoses and hospitalization records, and also includes patient names and birthdates. The purpose of the project is reportedly to design health software that could home in on a patient's medical history. Patients and doctors haven't been informed of the Google partnership, and Ascension employees have raised concerns over the project, the Journal said. After the Journal report was published, Ascension issued a press release announcing the partnership.
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.