Alphabet Inc.'s Google is working with one of the biggest USA healthcare providers to develop new digital tools, giving the internet giant deep access to the personal health information of millions of Americans.
Eventually, data from all of the company's patients (birth dates, lab results, diagnoses, and hospitalization records, for example) could be uploaded to Google's cloud computing systems, with a view to using artificial intelligence to scan electronic records, or diagnose or identify medical conditions.
The collaboration, code-named "Project Nightingale", began in secret a year ago, according to the Journal.
"Ascension's data can not be used for any other goal than for providing these services we're offering under the agreement, and patient data can not and will not be combined with any Google consumer data", Google said.
Sometime a year ago, Google allegedly partnered with the second largest healthcare organization in the United States, Ascension.
Neither patients nor doctors have been notified.
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Engadget has reached out to Google for comment.
The initiative is titled "Project Nightingale" and it has been collecting medical records of patients in 22 U.S. states.
According to the Journal's report, Google is using the information to inform new design software that will rely heavily on artificial intelligence. In a blog post, Google said the project was a "business arrangement to help a provider with the latest technology, similar to the work we do with dozens of other healthcare providers".
According to Feinberg, Google's health team is now building a tool that can help to make it easier for doctors and nurses to find the exact data they need when they need it by scanning through Ascension's multiple electronic health record systems.
The company last week announced a $2.1 billion deal for wearable fitness maker Fitbit Inc., which makes watches and bracelets that track health information like heart rate.
In a press release, Google and Ascension said they are fully committed to a "robust data security and protection effort" and fully compliant with HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that protects patient privacy.