November 13, 2019

What’s up, Doc? Google doubles down on patient data in partnership with Ascension

Google continues making plays for big patient data in partnership with Ascension

Since announcing their joint health care initiative in July, Google and US health care giant Ascension have been quietly ramping up their data collection project… and it’s a tad shady. 

Under the deal (code-named “Project Nightingale”), Google provides Ascension with cloud-based storage and other tools to centralize their data management and streamline their patient care. 

Google’s out for your blooooood (test results): Ascension’s care providers now upload patient medical information into the cloud-based Nightingale platform — which then uses machine learning to recommend personalized treatment plans, doctors, etc. 

On one hand, it’s a much-needed face-lift for a fragmented industry

These infrastructure improvements have potential to improve treatment insights, diagnoses, and overall quality of care. So that’s super. 

But it seems motives aren’t 100% pure: According to The Wall Street Journal, Ascension also hopes to uncover opps (e.g., expensive follow-up tests) to squeeze more revenue from patients. 

Google’s power play is aimed at winning valuable market share as rival data giants, including Amazon and Apple, make similar industry forays

Can I get a little privacy here? 

No, no you really can’t. Turns out, Ascension hasn’t notified its doctors nor its tens of millions of patients that dozens of Googlers have their personal info. 

Google — no stranger to security scrutiny — promises that patient info cannot be combined with Google user data or used for anything else… and we see no reason to mistrust big tech privacy assurances, so all good! 

In short, these developments are stirring up a cocktail of truly exciting medical progress with a dash of impending data-driven doom. 

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