Patient Privacy

The Wall Street Journal article headline says it all.

Google Strikes Deal With Hospital Chain to Develop Healthcare Algorithms

Alphabet, through its Google subsidiary, is going to be given access to patient records—patient identification, medical history, drug prescription and use, Internet-connected medical device use and medical device-originated reporting—by a major healthcare provision chain, HCA Healthcare Inc.

Dr Jonathan Perlin, President of HCA’s Clinical Services Group and Chief Medical Officer assures us:

Data are spun off of every patient in real time[.]

In real time. As the patient is hooked into the Internet via an ostensibly privacy-protecting connection.

The claimed goal of this…partnership…is to

develop algorithms to help improve operating efficiency, monitor patients and guide doctors’ decisions, according to the companies.


Google will access data when needed with consent from HCA….

But not necessarily with the consent of the patient, it seems.

Perlin does promise that patient-identifying data will be stripped before HCA passes patient data to Alphabet.

Of course.

Never mind that patient monitoring is tough to do without those data. Never mind that developing algorithms for monitoring patients is tough to do without those data in the mix for, you know, testing.

Alphabet’s penchant for taking user personal data for its own purposes, including monetizing those data for the company’s benefit, is long-standing and well-known. Now the company, with the active collusion of a major hospital chain, is expanding that reach into patient medical data—Alphabet user or not.

Patient privacy be damned. It’s a brave new world.

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