By | November 15, 2019
Google-Ascension Cloud Computing Deal Triggers Federal Inquiry in the US: Report

Photo Credit: Patricia De Melo Moreira/ AFP

A US federal regulator has initiated an investigation into a cloud computing deal between Alphabet’s Google and Ascension Health, which would give Google access to detailed health information of millions of patients, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services will look into the data collection to ensure the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which safeguards medical information, the Journal said.

“Google and the Catholic nonprofit are moving that data into Google’s cloud-computing system—with potentially big changes on tap for doctors and patients,” WSJ noted.

On Monday, Google said patient data “cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data.”

Google did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request for comment.

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

Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian has made it a priority in his first year on the job to aggressively chase business from leaders in six industries, including healthcare.

The company previously touted smaller healthcare clients, such as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine.

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

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