Google Collected Personal Health Data Through ‘Project Nightingale’

| Updated
by Teuta Franjkovic · 3 min read
Google Collected Personal Health Data Through ‘Project Nightingale’
Photo: Pixabay

It is believed that Google secretly gathered millions of patient records in the framework of the initiative that is known under the name “Project Nightingale”.

It seems Google has secretly gathered impressive volumes of patient records across 21 states on behalf of a health care provider. It is supposed to have been done via a project that is dubbed “Project Nightingale.”

According to Wall Street Journal, nobody – both patients and doctors – were aware of this effort.

As per WSJ the data that was collected in this program includes “lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to complete health history, complete with patient names and dates of birth.” Also, more than 150 Google employees seem to have an opportunity to all of the data.

On the other hand, New York Times confirmed the whole situation saying “dozens of Google employees” could have had access to all of the sensitive patient data, and that there are serious worries about some Google employees who may have downloaded some of that data.

Still, Google said that this is actually normal and standard practice inside the health sector that even the most sensitive health records are shared.

A spokesperson tackled the idea that Google has been secretly collecting the health records of millions of U.S. citizens. He claimed the only purpose of the whole deal was to supply services back to the health care provider, and the reason why it didn’t announce it was doing because work was in the very early stages.

Google confirmed that it has been working with a Catholic health care system dubbed Ascension. As per the WSJ reports, Google was operating data from the system to design a kind of software that adapts sole patient care by using “advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

Google has lately been competing with Amazon and Apple, which were also trying to move into the profitable health care space. Only last year, Google employed a health care executive in order to control its health initiatives. They also revealed their plans to absorb AI lab DeepMind’s health care division, with the focus on creating an “AI assistant for nurses and doctors.”

Google had also partnered with the University of Chicago Medical Center in 2017 to develop machine learning tools. The company also added that one of its machine learning ambitions is to “anticipate the needs of the patients before they arise.”

Ascension announced their partnership with Google and said that the focus of the collaboration was to “optimize the health and wellness of individuals and communities, and deliver a comprehensive portfolio of digital capabilities.”

Google also added in their blog post that “Nightingale” is the name of its health project.

“To be clear: under this arrangement, Ascension’s data cannot be used for any other purpose than for providing these services we’re offering under the agreement, and patient data cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data,” explained Google Cloud president Tariq Shaukat.

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