Google partners with major health system, gaining access to patient data

Google Ascension collecting private health data Wall Street Journal – Business Insider

Google launched the effort previous year with St. Louis-based Ascension, the country's second-largest health system. In all, the data amounts to complete medical records, WSJ notes, and contains patient names and birth dates.

Neither Google or Ascension has notified patients or doctors about the data sharing. An anonymous source said that at least 150 Google employees already have gained access to "much of the data on tens of millions of patients".

Neither doctors nor the patients in the 21 states where it will be used have been told about it.

The companies' joint digital, health care capabilities will allow consumers to more proactively manage their own health care - all enabled by Google-developed tools, according to the press release. Allegedly, Google has so far developed Project Nightingale for free. For Google's part, the company is developing new software that employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to make care suggestions for individual patients.

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The long-term goal, according to leaked Google documents, is to create a system that aggregates patient data into a one-stop-shop for health care providers.

From a privacy and legal standpoint, Project Nightingale appears to fall within the bounds of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).

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

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Google affirmed that Project Nightingale is fully compliant with federal health laws.

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