US: Google’s “Project Nightingale” accused of secretly gathering health records

Google secretly gathered millions of patient records across 21 states on behalf of a healthcare provider, in an effort dubbed “Project Nightingale,” reported 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.

Google has confirmed that it partnered with health heavyweight Ascension, a Catholic health care system based in St. Louis that operates across 21 states and the District of Columbia. The company calls itself “a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care.” According to the WSJ, Google is using data from the system to design software that tailors individual patient care using “advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

Forbes reported that as a part of Project Nightingale, Ascension uploaded patient data to Google’s Cloud servers. The idea was that by using the system, Ascension health providers could use a tool called Patient Search to pull up individual patient pages. According to Forbes, which stated it viewed a presentation on the topic, “The page includes complete patient information as well as notes about patient medical issues, test results and medications, including information from scanned documents.”

Full Content: Forbes, Wall Street Journal

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