BRYAN, Texas — Google has been, and is paving its way into the healthcare industry. The tech company recently formed a partnership with Ascension, the country's second largest health system, to obtain health information of all patients under Ascension.

“Ascension is sharing health information of its patients to Google and with the objective of creating artificial intelligence and machine learning software tools to make health information more useful to doctors who are making decisions,” said Health Policy and Management Assistant Professor at Texas A and M Cason Schmit.

The Wall Street Journal on November 11th claims Ascension has been sharing patient records with Google without consent from patients.

“There was this negative criticism relating to consent and notice or lack thereof to doctors and patients. And this comes into broad context of many different data related episodes; data is being used by private and public organizations in ways that a lot of people aren’t comfortable with,” said Schmit.

Professor Schmit said it's still too early to make an ethical analysis regarding the partnership.

“From what we know right now, which is very little, we’ll probably not know as much as we want. It’s a mixed bag; if we want to see our health system take the next step in the 21st century, these types of partnerships between health systems like Ascension and software experts like Google need to happen,” said Schmit. 

But, he also added that it's important to keep these partnerships accountable.

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"The question is how are we doing, and that's where a lot of the questions need to be answered by Google and Ascension. Are there adequate processes in place for transparency to the public? Are there mechanisms in place to hold people accountable when there are abuses of data?"

Ascension has already begun sharing its patients data with google in hopes of developing software tools to aid the health industry.

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