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Google to Use ‘Patient Data’ to Develop Healthcare Algorithms

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The media reported that Google collaborated with the US hospital chain HCA Healthcare to develop healthcare algorithms using patient records.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google will have access to patient records from HCA, which operates 181 hospitals and more than 2,000 healthcare sites in 21 states.

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“HCA would consolidate and store with Google data from digital health records and internet-connected medical devices under the multi-year agreement,” the report said on Wednesday.

Google will store anonymized data from patient health records and internet-connected medical devices.

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The report mentioned will use that data to build programs that could inform medical decisions made by healthcare providers.

Not just Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are also working in the field to analyze patient data and create such AI/ML-based programmes, to foray into the $3 trillion healthcare sector.

Reports surfaced in 2019 that Google was gathering health information of millions of US citizens — without informing them or their doctors — to design an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven software.

St. Louis-based faith-based healthcare organization Ascension was reportedly sharing lab results, diagnoses, and hospitalization records — as well as health histories complete with patient names and dates of birth — with Google, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“The initiative, code-named ‘Project Nightingale,’ appears to be the biggest effort yet by a Silicon Valley giant to gain a toehold in the health-care industry through the handling of patients medical data,” the report had mentioned.

In a blog post, Google tried to clarify its partnership with Ascension.

“All of Google’s work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations regarding patient data, and come with strict guidance on data privacy, security and usage,” said Tariq Shaukat, President, Industry Products and Solutions, Google Cloud.

Google had said it has a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with Ascension, which governs access to Protected Health Information (PHI) for the purpose of helping providers support patient care.

“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,” said the company.

In 2017, Google partnered with the University of Chicago Medical Centre to develop machine learning tools capable of “accurately predicting medical events — such as whether patients will be hospitalised, how long they will stay, and whether their health is deteriorating despite treatment for conditions such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, or heart failure.”

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