Google’s patient information project ‘Nightingale’ is under scrutiny

Not long after The Wall Street Journal blew the lid off Project Nightingale, regulators have declared that they’ll begin investigating Google’s partnership with Ascension, the second-biggest health system in the US. As indicated by WSJ, the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services “will seek to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals’ medical records to ensure that HIPAA protections were fully implemented.”

The Office for Civil Rights’ website says it “enforces federal civil rights laws, conscience and religious freedom laws, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules, and the Patient Safety Act and Rule, which together protect your fundamental rights of nondiscrimination, conscience, religious freedom, and health information privacy.”

Project Nightingale gives Google access to countless patients’ names, health histories, date of birth, lab results, conclusdiagnoses ions and hospitalization records from Ascension. The health system allegedly didn’t tell doctors and patients that it’s sharing information to the tech giant, which is utilizing the data to design new AI-powered software. WSJ says Google imagines an AI that would be able to automatically anticipate the result and dangers of specific methods and medications. The software would have the option to read scanned pictures like MRIs and transfer related information to a central network that can be gotten to by both Ascension and Google personnel.

Pundits are stressed over patient privacy, particularly since a monstrous collection of health-related information is included. Representative Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) believes the project ought to have greater government oversight and even called for new legislation to address the issue. A Google representative told WSJ, however, that the organization is “happy to coordinate” with the probe and it believes its “work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations (including HIPAA) regarding patient data and comes with strict guidelines on data privacy, security, and usage.” That echoes Google’s blog post about the partnership, where it guaranteed individuals that it adheres to HIPAA.