Google’s latest foray into health care offers an opportunity for innovation as well as privacy concerns.
- Google is partnering with health care organizations to make its artificial intelligence (AI) applications accessible for medical applications. These tools will allow health-care companies to “read, store, and label X-rays, MRIs, and other medical imaging,” Forbes reports.
- The tech giant says that AI applications will allow for faster and more accurate diagnoses.
- “The tools, from Google’s cloud unit, allow hospitals and medical companies to search through imaging metadata or develop software to quickly analyze images for diagnoses,” says Forbes.
- The Medical Imaging Suite provides the tools that can also help health-care workers to automate the annotation of medical images.
- Google’s parent company Alphabet is seeking new ways to invest in health care—in spite of the company’s history of dubious and controversial efforts that were accused of abusing private data.
Why it’s news
Allowing companies access to Google’s technology may prove to be a very lucrative and effective way to improve technology and doctors’ abilities to diagnose and treat disease, but watchdogs are nervous.
Privacy advocates have concerns about how major corporations like Google will be using their advanced AI and data.
The company faced previous criticism in 2019 when a partnership with health company Ascension resulted in Google accessing private data—including lab results, names, birthdays, and other hospital records. Google defended itself saying the collection was legal, Forbes reports.
Data collection is a very sensitive issue and major corporations face criticism for abusing it frequently. As we previously reported, Amazon’s new self-checkout technology is heavily reliant on camera surveillance and algorithms, which has some critics concerned about the data and security abuses that are possible with such a powerful technology.
“Privacy advocates may raise concerns that the tech giant, which makes the majority of its $257 billion annual revenue from personalized ads based on user data, would use patient information to feed its vast advertising machine,” says Forbes.
“[Google Cloud’s global lead for health tech strategy and solutions] says Google doesn’t have any access to patients’ protected health information, and none of the data from the service would be used for the company’s advertising efforts. Google claims the service is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, a federal law that regulates the use of patient data.”