KTVA: Murkowski concerned, urges action over Google health partnership

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is teaming up with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, to ask the Department of Health and Human Services to look into the partnership between tech giant Google and Ascension Health System over privacy concerns.

The two senators wrote a letter urging the department to look into the collaboration, called Project Nightingale. The project allows Google employees access to the sensitive health record of nearly 50 million Americans.

According to the letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the information includes personally identifiable information, lab results, hospital records and physician diagnoses.

"Technology has undoubtedly made it easier for people to monitor and control their own health and health care decisions," the senators wrote. "But it has also given companies more access to personal and private health data with very few rules of the road in place to regulate data sharing, processing, and analysis."

The letter continues to say, "...we are concerned that technological progress is once again taking precedence over adequately protecting Americans' sensitive information."

Google released a statement after a Wall Street Journal article on its partnership with Ascension acknowledging patients' health data is sensitive. But in a release Sen. Murkowski's office says Google did not want to comment on how the information would be used but that Google did claim the partnership with Ascension is allowed under HIPAA — the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

By:  Jennifer Summers
Source: KTVA

Related Issues: Health