Privacy advocates raise concerns about Google patient data deal with HCA Healthcare

Occurred: May 2021

A deal struck between US hospital chain HCA Healthcare and Google that gave the latter access to to patient records at hundreds of hospitals and thousands of heathcare sites prompted concerns by privacy advocates and rights groups. 

The stated aims of the deal were to increase HCA efficiencies and develop algorithms and tools to monitor patients and guide medical decision-making. 

However, similar to Google’s Project Nightingale, privacy advocates raised concerns that sensitive patient data could be monetised or misused by the technology company, despite the data having been anonymised.

Concerns were also expressed about the security of patient data, given a spate of high-profile ransomware attacks in the months leading up to the announcement of the deal. 

US healthcare privacy laws permit hospitals to share information with suppliers, and allow researchers to analyse patient data without their permission. Healthcare companies can then use that information however they want.

System 🤖

Operator: HCA Healthcare; Alphabet/Google
Developer: Alphabet/Google
Country: USA
Sector: Health
Purpose: Increase operating efficiency
Technology: Database
Issue: Privacy; Security
Transparency: Privacy