Very few things qualify for removal from Google's search results, and according to Bloomberg, that list just grew by one. The tech titan has apparently begun purging personal medical records from results pages -- Google didn't make a big announcement about it, but a new line on its Removal Policies website confirms the new rule. Under the section marked "Information we may remove," there's a new entry that says "confidential, personal medical records of private people." Google might have begun working on the category's addition after an unfortunate event in December that exposed the sensitive medical condition of a massive number of people.
Google has started removing private medical records from its search results, after adjusting its policy regarding personal information. The change was made on Thursday to include the "confidential, personal medical records of private people" in the bracket of information Google may remove unprompted from search results. Other examples of such information include national or government issued identification numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and images of signatures. The leaking of private medical records can be extremely damaging to the victims, both financially and emotionally, with future prospects affected and private lives of the vulnerable exposed. Given that Google's indexing system will capture anything that's publicly accessible on the internet, leaks such as those created by an Indian pathology lab which uploaded more than 43,000 patient records in December, including names and HIV blood test results, can be particularly damaging.
When the University of Chicago Medical Center announced a partnership to share patient data with Google in 2017, the alliance was promoted as a way to unlock information trapped in electronic health records and improve predictive analysis in medicine. On Wednesday, the University of Chicago, the medical center and Google were sued in a potential class-action lawsuit accusing the hospital of sharing hundreds of thousands of patients' records with the technology giant without stripping identifiable date stamps or doctor's notes. The suit, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, demonstrates the difficulties technology companies face in handling health data as they forge ahead into one of the most promising -- and potentially lucrative -- areas of artificial intelligence: diagnosing medical problems. Google is at the forefront of an effort to build technology that can read electronic health records and help physicians identify medical conditions. But the effort requires machines to learn this skill by analyzing a vast array of old health records collected by hospitals and other medical institutions.
You could be forgiven for assuming that Glass, Google's head-mounted augmented-reality device, had been effectively dead since 2015. But as Google's sister company X, the Moonshot Factory, announced on Tuesday, the project has been pivoting to a business-to-business model over the past two years. The new, updated version of the device is known as Glass Enterprise Edition, and it's been put to use at companies like Boeing, DHL--and in your physician's office. Going to the doctor today is "a pretty tragic experience," says Ian Shakil, the CEO and co-founder of a company called Augmedix. Its platform enables physicians to wear Glass Enterprise Edition as they see patients, while remote medical scribes fill out the electronic medical records based on what they hear and see from the visit.
Already, the two organizations are testing software that allows medical providers to search a patient's electronic health record by specific data categories and create graphs of the information, like blood test results over time, according to internal documents obtained by The New York Times. The aim is to give medical professionals better access to patient data, to improve patient care and, ultimately, to try to glean insights from the data to help treatment. Google is teaming up with Ascension, a nonprofit, as American consumer tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft jockey to gain a bigger share of the huge health care market. Apple has expanded into virtual medical research using its iPhone and Apple Watch. Microsoft has introduced cloud-based tools to help health systems share medical data.