U.S. Federal regulators have reportedly begun an investigation into a cloud computing deal between Google and Ascension Health which involved Google collecting detailed medical records on millions of Americans.
Reuters reports that the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services has begun an investigation into a cloud computing deal between Google and Ascension Health which granted Google access to the detailed health information of millions of patients.
The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services will be investigating the data collection elements of the deal in order to ensure that the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which was put in place to safeguard medical information.
Google stated this week that patient data “cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data.” The collaboration between Google and Ascension is named “Project Nightingale” and aims to collect the health information of 50 million American patients.
Google stated in its blog post: “All of Google’s work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations (including HIPAA) regarding patient data, and come with strict guidance on data privacy, security and usage. We have a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with Ascension, which governs access to Protected Health Information (PHI) for the purpose of helping providers support patient care. This is standard practice in healthcare, as patient data is frequently managed in electronic systems that nurses and doctors widely use to deliver 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. ”
Read the full blog post from Google here.