Google signs healthcare data deal with Ascension, gets access to health records of millions of Americans

In a deal that provides Alphabet Inc’s Google Inc more data to finetune its artificial intelligence tools, the search giant has signed its biggest cloud computing customer in healthcare to date with Ascension.

In a joint statement Ascension, which operates 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities across the United States, and Google stated, the former will move some data and analytics tools in its facilities to Google’s servers.

The deal will see Google gaining access to personal health-related information of millions of Americans across 21 states.

The data involved in the project includes lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, along with patient names and dates of birth.

On Monday, Google had clarified through a blog post, saying patient data “cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data.”

Ascension “are the stewards of the data, and we provide services on their behalf,” wrote Tariq Shaukat, president for industry products and solutions at Google Cloud.

In a press release, Ascension said the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which safeguards medical information.

Ascension aims to use AI to help improve clinical effectiveness as well as patient safety.

Although Google’s blog post did not mention AI, it did however say, the companies were in “early testing” on how to make better use of Ascension’s data.

Incidentally, the development comes in the wake of an earlier news report that Google aims to acquire Fitbit Inc for $2.1 billion.

Clearly Google aims to get into the digital health business.

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