Nov 11, 2019

Google, Ascension analyzing data without patients' knowledge

Google and Ascension are calling it "health care transformation." Photo: Lyu Liang/VCG via Getty Images

Not-for-profit hospital system Ascension has allowed Google to access a wide array of patient data, including names and diagnoses, but did not notify patients or doctors about their secret data project until the Wall Street Journal reported the story today.

Why it matters: This exchange of sensitive medical information is technically legal under federal law that protects patient health information, as long as Google is contracted as a "business associate" with Ascension.

Go deeper: What your hospital knows about you

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Feds probe Google and Ascension over patient data sharing

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday it is investigating the data-sharing relationship between Google and not-for-profit hospital system Ascension.

Why it matters: Per Axios health care business reporter Bob Herman, exchanging patients’ health information is legal under federal privacy law, and this data sharing is common, even when patients aren’t aware. The government is making sure Google is contracted as a "'business associate" with Ascension.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 13, 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.

Go deeperArrowNov 16, 2019

Google fires 4 as internal tensions mount

Google's logo on an escalator on Sept. 11. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Google confirmed Monday that it has fired four workers for violating company policies on data access. Google had earlier put two of the employees on leave over the issue.

Why it matters: It's the latest salvo in an increasingly fierce battle between the company and employee activists.

Go deeperArrowNov 26, 2019