In 2019, Google embarked on a mysterious-sounding venture.
Called Project Nightingale and carried out in secret, the tech giant teamed up with St. Louis-based Ascension, one of the largest private health-care companies in the country. Google was granted complete access to 50 million patients’ names, lab results, diagnoses and hospitalization records, as well as their home addresses and places of employment. Even more worryingly, at no time did Ascension or Google make an attempt to inform the patients or ask for their consent.
Despite patient privacy concerns, this partnership has only grown with Google boosting its electronic health-record search tool, likely resulting in the accumulation of even more patient data.
Now, hungry for even more medical data, Google has signed a multiyear deal with HCA, an American for-profit operator of medical facilities with 2,000 health-care sites across 21 different states. The agreement will give Google access to millions more patient records — enabling its advertisers to specifically target even victims of sexual abuse as well as those struggling with severe eating disorders.
Google has said it will use the sensitive data to develop health-care algorithms that it could hand off to HCA to test on its own. “We want to push the boundaries of what the clinician can do in real time with data,” Chris Sakalosky, managing director of healthcare and life sciences at Google Cloud, told The Wall Street…