Project Venture Allows Google to Access Ascension Patients Health Records

Google has affirmed the news of its partnership with one of the biggest U.S. healthcare systems so that it could access a substantial volume of patient information.

Google partnered with Ascension, which is the world’s largest Catholic health system and the second-largest U.S. non-profit health system. Ascension is operating approximately 2,600 healthcare facilities in 21 states, including around 150 hospitals and 50 senior living facilities.

With the collaboration, Google is given access to patient medical data such as names, birth dates, diagnoses, treatment information, medical test results, service dates, and other personal and medical information.

The project’s code name is Project Nightingale. The Wall Street Journal report mentioned that about 150 Google employees could access patient data through the project. Allegedly, Ascension gave patient data access without letting the patients or physicians know about it. Google and Ascension publicized Project Nightingale following the publishing of the WSJ report.

On November 11, Ascension issued a press release concerning its partnership with Google to improve the health and wellness of individuals in communities and provide a comprehensive portfolio of digital features that can better the medical experience of Ascension patients, customers, and healthcare companies.

Google disclosed in its announcement that it had already spoken of the project in July 2019 during its earnings call in the second quarter, where it described Google Cloud’s AI and ML solutions and how they help healthcare companies to improve healthcare experience and results.

  • Google described the project’s emphasis in its blog post on November 11;
  • Altering Ascension’s Google Cloud platform infrastructure;
  • Helping Ascension utilize G Suite productivity apps and;
  • Giving the resources to doctors and nurses to improve care.

Google similarly pointed out that some tools it is targeting aren’t working yet in clinical development and remain at the initial testing phase. Therefore, Project Nightingale got this code name.

Another aim of the venture is using Google’s computing features to evaluate patient data and produce software that regulates its AI and machine learning systems to provide more targeted patient care.

Ascension mentioned that it will look into artificial intelligence or machine learning applications which are capable of improving patient safety, clinical quality and effectiveness, and assistance for vulnerable populations, and additionally enhance customer and healthcare provider approval.

Google is Ascension’s business associate. As such, Google should have legitimate access to patient data and should completely comply with the rules of the Health insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The two parties must enter into a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) and there must be safety procedures setup to protect patient data.

Ascension also said that the venture is backed by powerful data protection and followsAscension’s rigorous data handling requirements.

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Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA