What Do You Think About Hospital Data Partnerships With Big Tech?

September 18, 2019

The Mayo Clinic and Google recently announced they've struck a 10-year partnership for the health system to store patient data in Google's cloud computing system and use artificial intelligence to develop new healthcare tools.

"We are going to be putting essentially all of our data in the Google Cloud for many years," Mayo Clinic Chief Information Officer Christopher Ross told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune . "If this is done well, we believe we'll have the opportunity to bring some transformative kinds of answers to patients." The Mayo Clinic will retain control of how patients' data are accessed and used, according to the health system's news release.

In other recent news on Google's work with health systems, in June, a potential class-action lawsuit was filed against the tech giant and the University of Chicago Medical Center alleging that the hospital shared patient records that hadn't been properly deidentified. The university denied the claims.

Partnerships to mine patients' data to create new products can be ethically murky, even though the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) doesn't require that patients give permission for their deidentified information to flow into such databases, experts told Medscape Medical News for a previous story about the American Society of Clinical Oncology's subsidiary, CancerLinQ.

"I think that the ethics of profiting off of someone else's information is dicey and at the very least the patient should go in with their eyes open, and that requires informing them," said Robert Field, PhD, MPH, JD, a professor of law and public health at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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