Google's secret 'Project Nightingale' reportedly collects healthcare data on millions

Jeff Chiu  Associated Press Google like other big tech companies is aggressively trying to get a bigger piece of the health care industry

Neither doctors nor the patients in the 21 states where it will be used have been told about it.

Sources told The Wall Street Journal that Google's development of this initiative began previous year with a partnership with the St. Louis-based health system Ascension, the second-largest company of its kind in the United States. Now at least 150 Google employees have access to this data, already reaching into the tens of millions of patients.

Ascension released a statement Monday after details of the partnership were disclosed by the Wall Street Journal. A Google spokeswoman says the project is fully compliant with federal health law and includes robust protections for patient data.

Google Cloud president Tariq Shaukat said the company hopes "to transform the delivery of healthcare through the power of the cloud, data analytics, machine learning, and modern productivity tools-ultimately improving outcomes, reducing costs, and saving lives".

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Deciding whether and how to disclose those arrangements to patients, doctors, and the broader public can be tricky for hospitals, because of concerns about their ability to safeguard personal health information.

Google in this case is using the data, in part, to design new software, underpinned by advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, that zeroes in on individual patients to suggest changes to their care.

A "bombshell" new report from The Wall Street Journal describes a secret project from Google and healthcare giant Ascension to store data on millions of Americans, a move that critics of the tech conglomerate decried as another example of overreach. This system could then be sold by Google to other companies, such as partner Ascension.

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