A partnership between Alphabet Inc.’s Google and the nonprofit health-care provider Ascension has drawn the attention of a regulator in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The partnership hadn’t previously been disclosed, including to patients whose personal health information may have been involved, the Journal reported on Monday. But it was said to have been mentioned during Google’s July earnings call. As part of the work, Google employees may have had access to data including hospital records, patient names, and birth dates, according to internal documents obtained by the New York Times, but the company declined to elaborate beyond a statement that said all information sharing complies with federal privacy laws and Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling.
The partnership is wide-ranging and includes developing new software that uses artificial intelligence to improve patient outcomes, Ascension, a Catholic health-care provider with more than 150 hospitals in 20 states, said Monday in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal reported the partnership earlier and said the deal had originally been struck last year.
Google and other big tech companies have been pushing into health care in recent years. Apple Inc. asks its Apple Watch users to opt-in to studies on heart rate, while Amazon.com Inc. has bought an online pharmacy and partnered with other corporations on a health venture called Haven. Google, for its part, has built a significant health-care team and is experimenting with using artificial intelligence to improve health care.