A new leak alleges that Google is collecting millions of health records on Americans under a partnership with Catholic healthcare chain Ascension under an initiative dubbed ‘Project Nightingale.’ The report claims that under this partnership, Google has been getting data on patients that “amounts to a complete health history,” including everything from the patients’ names to their diagnoses and lab results.
The claim comes from The Wall Street Journal, which first reported that Google has teamed with Ascension — which has 2,600 healthcare facilities, including hospitals, around the US — to crunch patient data and use it to produce various outcomes ranging from information about what the facility can bill for all the way to notes about needing to enforce narcotics policies and unusual changes in patient care.
Project Nightingale is allegedly the name of the Google system that is fed patient data, something said to be happening without those patients’ consent. Information provided to the system reportedly includes things like the medications they’re taking, their list of medical conditions, x-rays and other scans, lab test results, and past hospitalizations.
Google’s system reportedly also gets the patient’s name and their list of family members, their allergies and which vaccines they’ve received, plus their address and date of birth. The report claims that 150 or more Google employees have access to “much” of the information that is provided, which is said to amount to ‘tens of millions’ of people.
In a statement published after the WSJ’s report, Ascension confirmed that it is working with Google on what it calls ‘healthcare transformation,’ claiming that the new capabilities under this partnership include things like improving the efficiency of its tech systems and helping support caregivers.
Though many details from the WSJ report aren’t confirmed — or even commented on — Ascension says it is transitioning to Google’s G Suite, using Google Cloud Platform as part of its effort to modernize its infrastructure, and that it is ‘exploring’ the use of AI and machine learning algorithms. The company goes on to state that its work with Google is HIPAA compliant and protected by ‘robust data security.’