Teaming up with Ascension, the second-biggest health system in the United States, Google’s Project Nightingale aims to collect health data from millions of Americans, without telling patients or doctors (via WSJ).
The data included in Project Nightingale includes:
- Lab results
- Doctor diagnoses
- Hospitalization records
- Birth dates
- Patient names
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) says that hospitals can share data with business partners without telling patients as long as the information is used “only to help the covered entity carry out its health-care functions.”
Google has no health care functions. Instead it wants this health data to design software and use machine learning to suggest changes to individuals’ health care. Currently at least 150 Google employees have access to this data, already reaching into the tens of millions of patients.