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Google gains access to 32 million patient records after striking deal with hospital chain


On Wednesday, HCA Healthcare a health conglomerate that operates 186 hospitals and almost 2,000 care sites in the U.S. have struck a deal with Alphabet’s Google Cloud. The Wall Street Journal was the first agency to report the news. The hospital will use the tech giant’s technology to develop new algorithms that will help its doctors in diagnosis. HCA says that it will scrub patients’ names from shared records but there are several concerns on privacy issues.


The Nashville, Tennessee based hospital chain said that it will use Google Cloud to store its digital health records of its patients. HCA also said that it would use anonymized patients’ records with Google’s Artificial Intelligence technology to give the best treatment to its patients. HCA’s database has records of 32 million patients.


An HCA spokesman told the Daily Mail that their contract prohibits Google Cloud from using identifiable information of patients. The statement also said that access to any data was prohibited without permission from HCA.


There is no clarity on the financial aspects of the deal between the two huge companies. No mention has been made about the proprietorship of the algorithm that will be developed as it is a combined effort between the two — HCA will provide the patients’ data and Google’s AI will be the technology behind the algorithm. It is unclear whether the algorithm will belong to HCA or to Google.


In a statement HCA said that privacy and security would be the guiding principles throughout the partnership. It added that the access and use of patient data would be addressed through the implementation of the Google Cloud ‘s infrastructure as well as the layers of security controls and processes that are available at HCA Healthcare.


Google has ventured into the health care system before when it partnered with Ascension, which was also first reported by the Wall Street Journal. However, Google is not the only large tech company that  has partnered with health care groups as healthcare is a lucrative $3 trillion industry and has also attracted partnerships with Google’s tech rivals, Amazon and Microsoft.



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