Google Health is growing — despite privacy concerns and a federal inquiry

Google has moved 500+ employees under the banner of its booming health business, according to CNBC. The search giant’s health biz dates back more than a decade, but its 1st “Google Health” product was terminated back in 2012.  These days, the health unit is working on improving the search results that consumers see when they […]


February 17, 2020

Google Health logo

Google has moved 500+ employees under the banner of its booming health business, according to CNBC.

The search giant’s health biz dates back more than a decade, but its 1st “Google Health” product was terminated back in 2012. 

These days, the health unit is working on improving the search results that consumers see when they consult Dr. Google, and making it easier for real docs to search medical records.

One of those efforts got Google into hot water

A couple years back, Google quietly teamed up with Ascension, the 2nd largest health system in the US, to start Project Nightingale. The partnership gave Google access to Acension’s trove of medical records. 

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Google says they’re organizing these records into a database for doctors and nurses. The data will feed algorithms designed to identify lung cancer, eye disease, and kidney injuries.

The feds are currently investigating whether Google and Ascension are protecting patient data sufficiently.

Google’s not the only company keeping an eye on your health

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft are also in the space. David Feinberg, the head of Google Health, says they’re in it for the greater good, not for profit (the health division isn’t connected to Google’s ad business).

Although he gets why people have privacy concerns, he’s asking the public to just trust Google. 

Here’s why that might be a hard sell

Google’s efforts raise a few red flags: The company hasn’t always been clear about exactly what it’s going to do with all this data, and in some cases, the info is personally identifiable. Feinberg has expressed reluctance to let patients opt out in some cases, too.

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