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Saturday, November 16, 2019

is Google being a "business associate" of Ascension Health Care something to worry about

In you are or  have been a patent of Ascension health care system your names,diagnosis, date of birth may be accessible to employees of Google according to recent news reports on various sites.The information is reported as including names and date of birth and you do not have to give permission.

For those of you who still think HIPAA is   all about your medical privacy , think again This is said to be perfectly legal under HIPAA as Google is a "business associate" of Ascension Health Care and the data is available to Google without permission of the patients or their physicians and apparently without the need to even notify patients about it.

A detailed explanation is found in a recent article in WIRED. See here.Actually after the story was published on multiple sources both Google and Ascension made  press releases assuring all concerned that there is absolutely nothing wrong and this arrangement is nothing to worry about and that everything is perfectly compliant with HIPAA

We are told that the arrangement and Google's help is " to optimize health and wellness of the individual and the community"

The story goes that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but what you tell your physician in the Ascension Health system goes to the Google  cloud.

With all the errors and fabrications I have personally noted on the EHR medical records of two patients and the very big risk of the  GIGO phenomenon  Google will likely devise some interesting optimizations.

Examples of those errors:

1.One erroneous diagnosis of atrial fibrillation
2.One erroneous diagnosis of hyperthyroidism
3.a diagnosis of osteoporosis which had no basis
4.two complete physical exams "documented in the chart" that never happened
5.one designation of an orthopedic abnormality in the wrong extremity
6.one designation of a  "my"primary care physician who I had never heard of

If the number of errors noted in just two patients is extrapolated to even a small percentage of medical records , you have to  be skeptical about how accurate or  useful would Google mega data magic be?.With a significant amount of garbage in won't we expect a bit of garbage out?

So with the privacy issue and the questionable reliability of HCRs ,the business associate relationship between Google and Ascension has a number of people concerned.

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