Beyond the acquisition of Fitbit earlier this month, Google’s health ambitions are multi-faceted and extend into services for hospitals and health providers. Such an effort named “Project Nightingale” was detailed today, along with the end product: “Patient Search.”
The Wall Street Journal today reported on Project Nightingale, with Forbes providing more details on the effort, including screenshots. Ascension — one of the country’s largest healthcare systems — is moving its patient records to Google Cloud. This “complete health history” includes “lab results, doctor diagnoses, and hospitalization records.”
In turn, Google is analyzing and compiling that data into a “Patient Search” tool that allows doctors and other health professionals to conveniently see all patient data on an “overview page.”
The page includes notes about patient medical issues, test results and medications, including information from scanned documents, according to presentations viewed by Forbes.
Internally, the project is being developed within Google Cloud, and 150 Googlers reportedly have access to the data. This includes Google Brain, the company’s internal AI research division. The WSJ describes another tool in development that uses machine learning to suggest possible patient treatment changes to doctors.
Google in this case is using the data, in part, to design new software, underpinned by advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, that zeroes in on individual patients to suggest changes to their care.
That appears to be further off in the distance compared to “Patient Search,” which is already deployed to Ascension facilities in Florida and Texas, with more locations planned this year. Google is apparently not charging Ascension for the work and could offer the tool to other health systems in the future.
When asked for comment, Google said Project Nightingale abides by all federal laws and that privacy protections are in place. Experts that spoke to the WSJ believe that this initiative is allowed under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).
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