Google collects personal health data for millions of Americans for a secret project code-named Project Nightingale in 21 US states. It is reported by The Wall Street Journal, citing sources close to the project.
Google collects laboratory test data, diagnoses, hospitalization records, vaccine information, allergies, and prescribed medications. To obtain information, the company collaborates with Ascension, a medical non-profit organization, which includes more than 2.6 thousand hospitals.
Based on the collected data, the project team creates electronic medical records, where it enters the names, dates of birth and medical history of patients. Neither doctors nor patients knew that the data transferred to Ascension was automatically sent to Google. According to WSJ, at least 150 Google employees have access to information.
Google told the publication that the project complies with federal health law and provides for reliable protection of patient data. Some Ascension employees doubted the legality of data collection – both from a legal and ethical point of view. The company’s lawyers replied that data collection was permitted in accordance with the law of 1996 on the exchange of information and the accountability of health insurance.
Google plans to use patient data to develop AI that would improve medical care. The software may also offer to do additional tests or tests to get more profit from patients.