Google has compiled the medical records of millions of patients without their knowledge or that of doctors
With the purchase of Fitbit, Google accessed a huge database on the health of users. But Google's attempts to become a medical assistant don't end there. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Google has an initiative called 'Project Nightingale' in which it seeks to organize the medical data of millions of users.
The initiative started last year with a group of 2,600 Catholic hospitals in the US and has expanded this summer. Google has been compiling the complete medical history; from the names of the patients, their dates of birth, the results of the analyzes, allergies and the diagnoses of the different doctors. An enormous amount of data for which they would not need the knowledge of either the patient or the doctor, since this data is obtained by directly associating with non-profit organizations such as Ascension, one of the largest health systems in the United States.
Google accesses millions of clinical data through healthcare companies
At least 150 Google workers would have accessed the data of millions of patients, in 21 different states in the US, according to the WSJ. After releasing the information, Google has decided to publish a statement confirming its alliance with Ascension. A business path that other companies such as Amazon and Microsoft are also exploring, but would not have yet reached an agreement of this scope in the US.
From Google they assure that the data of the patients strictly comply with the legislation. In the case of Ascension and the US it is the 'Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act' (HIPAA) of 1996, but a simple search on Google HealthCare shows us that Google Cloud claims to also comply with other security certifications such as ISO regulations 27001, 27017 or 27018.
Google ensures compliance with all current privacy legislation.
This exchange of data between medical systems and Google is regulated as long as you remain a "business partner," a legal figure that is covered by HIPAA and that allows Google to use medical history "only to assist the covered entity. to carry out their health care functions. "
Why has Google activated its 'Project Nightingale'? According to the company itself, to "modernize the healthcare industry, a critically important task, with the end result not only of digital transformation, but also of improving patient outcomes and saving lives." According to the WSJ, Google has been using this data to improve its software and artificial intelligence with the aim of improving suggestions at the health level.
The project is in the hands of a dozen engineers associated with the Google Cloud division. A collection that would be accessible in 'Patient Search', a tool that allows doctors and other health professionals to access a page with all the health information of patients. As can be seen in the filtered captures, the presentation of these data does not differ much from the information that the doctors themselves usually have.
This is the interface of 'Patient Search', the search tool with medical history. Forbes's picture
This 'Patient Search' tool would be focused on the non-profit health systems themselves. According to Forbes, the system is already being tested in Ascension-associated hospitals in Florida and Texas and plans are being made to expand its availability later this year. As the information describes, Google would not be charging for this service and its objective would be to offer this tool to more health systems in the future.
Among the companies that work with Google HealthCare, there are currently no European companies. And it is that in countries like Spain, which have a public health system, this Google service would be much more difficult to implement.