Google has secretly been gathering the health data of millions of Americans on behalf of the US' second-largest healthcare provider, Ascension. The data gathered includes lab results, diagnoses, hospitalisation records, and "amounts to a complete health history", including patient names and dates of birth. This was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, followed by the New York Times. Dubbed 'Project Nightingale', the project involves collection of health data from Ascension's hospitals without informing patients of such collection. Ascension is a Catholic non-profit that operates 150 hospitals in 20 states and District of Columbia. As many as 150 Google employees may have had access to the data, according to WSJ, and "dozens" of Google employees may have access to patient data like name, birth data, race, illnesses and treatments, according to NYTimes. Ascension employees have raised concern that Google employees may have downloaded patient data as well. According to internal documents accessed by NYTimes, "the data of all Ascension patients could eventually be uploaded to Google’s cloud computing platform" under the arrangement. As the project came to light on November 11, Google told The Verge that the project was kept under the radar because it's still in early stages, though Ascension and Google later made an announcement (more on this below). What are Google and Ascension working on? Google and Ascension are testing software that will allow healthcare providers to search a patient's electronic health record by "specific data categories and create graphs of the information, like blood test results…
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