Would you trust your most personal data with Google?

In fact do you trust any of your data with Google, let alone your medical data?

What do you think Google is going to do with your personal medical data?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a program at Google called “Project Nightingale”.  The program is intended to amass billions and billions of bits of personal and medical data from every medical office, hospital and company that collaborates with them.  One of those companies has many doctor offices and hospitals right here in Michigan.  They are called Ascension health, and one of those hospitals and adjoining medical offices is Borgess.

According to internal documents and reported by the Wall Street Journal:

Google began Project Nightingale in secret last year with St. Louis-based Ascension, a Catholic chain of 2,600 hospitals, doctors’ offices and other facilities, with the data sharing accelerating since summer

Why in secret?

I understand the need and want for medical electronic data being stored and shared among approved healthcare providers but it certainly sets up the stage for some bad things to happen to that data.

Another problem is Google is the last company that I would want to share any medical data with.  Their business model is centered on one thing and one thing only and that is selling our data to companies so they can advertise to us.

The data they are amassing involves lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, including patient names and dates of birth.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

How ‘Project Nightingale’ uses data

  1. Patient checks into hospital, doctor’s office or senior care center.
  2. Doctors/nurses examine the patient, input data into computers.

Data that is shared includes:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Family members
  • Allergies
  • Immunizations
  • Radiology scans
  • Hospitalization
  • records
  • Lab tests
  • Medications
  • Medical conditions

Data instantly flows to Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ system. The system may suggest the following outcomes, among others:

  • Additional enforcement of narcotics policies.
  • Replacement or addition of doctors to patient’s team.
  • Ascension may bill more or for different procedures.
  • Treatment plans, suggests tests, flags unusual deviations in care.

That is quite a bit of personal medical data would you not say.

Here is another interesting tidbit, apparently patients or doctors have never been notified.  Why would they not tell doctors and us as patients of Ascension facilities?  We also find out that at a minimum 150 Google employees already have access to much of the data on tens of millions of patients.

Interesting that according to privacy experts this type of vacuuming of data is permissible under federal law. They state the law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, allows hospitals to share data with business partners without telling us patients.  According to the law this can happen as long as the information is used “only to help the covered entity carry out its health care functions.”

Back to Michigan; Ascension is the second-largest health system in the U.S. which means that is quite a bit of data Google will be amassing.  I understand that Ascension it trying their best to improve patient care and save themselves some administrative costs but that does not alleviate my concern about Google having all of this information.

This takes me back to what I asked in the beginning:

Would you trust your most personal data with Google?

In fact do you trust any of your data with Google, let alone your medial data?

What do you think Google is going to do with your personal medical data?

I would not until they can prove they can keep our personal medical data to themselves, the people within their organization they approve and the medical facilities that need that data.