Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Secretly Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans

18 Novembre, 2019, 08:23 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Secretly Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans

Sources told The Wall Street Journal that Google's development of this initiative began past year with a partnership with the St. Louis-based health system Ascension, the second-largest company of its kind in the United States. Google added, "the partnership's rules were "standard practice" and that Ascension's data "cannot be used for any other objective than for providing these services we're offering under the agreement, and patient data can not and will not be combined with any Google consumer data".

The project is legal under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, though some staffers at Ascension are reportedly concerned over the ethics of the collection. Google recently announced plans to buy Fitbit Inc for $2.1bn, aiming to enter the wearables market and invest in digital health.

Ascension is known to one of America's most extensive non-profit health system, and it is working together with Google in analyzing the health data of millions of people.

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A new report out of the Wall Street Journal has suggested that Google has access to and is collating millions of patients' sensitive health information. The data in question is highly personal and includes things like lab results, doctor diagnoses, entire health history, and date of birth, among others.

Patients and doctors were not notified that their data is being shared, and did not give their consent, according to the report. The information was obtained through Google's partnership with St. Louis-based health provider Ascension, and has drawn significant criticism. Google also said in a blog post that patient data "cannot and will not" be combined with Google consumer data. The idea was that by using the system, Ascension health providers could use a tool called Patient Search and pull up individual patient pages.

According to Google, some of the solutions it is working on with Ascension are not yet in active clinical deployment, but rather are in early testing. WSJ says Google envisions an AI that would have the ability to automatically predict the outcome and risks of certain procedures and medications. Ascension said it aims to improve the tools used by both patients and caregivers as well as "explor [e] artificial intelligence/machine learning applications that will have the potential to support improvements in clinical quality and effectiveness".

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