Alphabet-owned Google is expanding its technology power grab by partnering with a national hospital chain to create algorithms using more than 32 million annual patient visit records.
Under its new contract with HCA Healthcare Inc., which has thousands of locations spanning 21 states in the nation, Google will be in charge of managing and storing digital health records and hospital data. The companies argue that the partnership will allow engineers to “develop algorithms to help improve operating efficiency, monitor patients and guide doctors’ decisions,” but Google will still have access to private patient data even after it’s “stripped of identifying information,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prohibits hospitals and health care companies from releasing patients’ private information without consent, but the data designated in Google’s contract with HCA could change that while still turning both companies a profit.
“The law allows hospitals and some other healthcare companies, such as health insurers, to share information with contractors, which must also abide by the law’s privacy protections,” the Journal reports.
Google is one of the “big five” tech companies under fire for using their power to manipulate markets, control narratives, and push political agendas. Not only is Google often the target of antitrust lawsuits and congressional hearings, even having received reprimands from the U.S. Supreme Court, but Google also has a track record of censoring and de-platforming conservatives, as well as lying about how it is using data and information. Documents leaked in March show that the Federal Trade Commission refused to sue Google in 2013 for anticompetitive practices even though the Silicon Valley giant showed the potential to amass large amounts of power in the technology sector.
Google also came under fire in 2019 for a similar patient data deal after the Big Tech company partnered with the nonprofit health system Ascension to “collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of about 50 million Americans” without notifying doctors or patients first.