Nov 16, 2019

Tech giants reach further into health care

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Big Tech, already under a withering spotlight from Congress for mishandling some user data, is elbowing further into health care — a world defined by its privacy pitfalls.

Why it matters: Giant companies have earned regulatory wrist-slaps for fumbling sensitive personal information, but the stakes are much higher for poorly protected health data.

What's happening: Recent moves, some unfolding in secret, show the reach of the companies' ambition — and, in some cases, their lack of preparation for the minefields.

  • Last week, the WSJ broke news of an agreement between Google and Ascension, the second-largest health care system in the country, that gave Google access to data from 50 million patients without informing them. The government is investigating the system's privacy protections.
  • On Friday, WaPo reported that Google had pulled the plug on a project with the National Institutes of Health in 2017 when NIH warned that the 100,000 X-ray images it was about to publish could identify the patients.
  • Apple, which has put health at the center of its products, announced three new research studies for Apple Watch owners — one of which aims to enroll a million women, monitoring them as they go about their daily lives. Doctors say it's still unclear how useful these large-scale studies are.

The big picture: Med tech is a hugely lucrative and fast-growing field, but it's been plagued by setbacks driven in part by a mismatch between can-do engineers and a more deliberate clinical culture.

The bottom line, from Axios' Caitlin Owens: "These companies are entering the health care world because it's clearly a profit bonanza and they want a piece of that money pie."

Go deeper: Americans have big hopes that Big Tech can improve health care

Go deeper

In photos: Protests over George Floyd's death grip Minneapolis

Protesters gather at Hennepin County Government Plaza on Thursday in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Protests in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died shortly after a police encounter in Minneapolis, are ongoing as the nation waits to see if the officers involved will be charged with murder.

The state of play: Minnesota's governor on Thursday activated the state's national guard following violent outbreaks throughout the week.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has a single novel coronavirus case after reporting a week of no new infections, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday local time.

By the numbers: Nearly 6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2.3 million have recovered from the virus. Over 357,000 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.6 million.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,803,416 — Total deaths: 359,791 — Total recoveries — 2,413,576Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,720,613 — Total deaths: 101,573 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: The mystery of coronavirus superspreaders.
  4. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  5. World: Twitter slapped a fact-check label on a pair of months-old tweets from a Chinese government spokesperson that falsely suggested that the coronavirus originated in the U.S.
  6. 2020: The RNC has issued their proposed safety guidelines for its planned convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  7. Axios on HBO: Science fiction writers tell us how they see the coronavirus pandemic.
  8. 🏃‍♀️Sports: Boston Marathon canceled after initial postponement, asks runners to go virtual.
  9. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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