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February 24, 2021

Google and Ascension expand Care Studio EHR pilot

Google and Ascension have announced the expansion of their pilot project to launch Care Studio, a tool to help clinicians organise patients’ electronic health records (EHR).

By Chloe Kent

Google and Ascension have announced the expansion of their pilot project to launch Care Studio, a tool to help clinicians organise patients’ electronic health records (EHR).

Google and Ascension have been working with clinicians based in Nashville, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida, to trial the product. The pilot is now expanding to more physicians and nurses working in clinical settings.

The software is built to work alongside existing EHR systems to streamline all data about an individual patient onto one centralised platform.

Care teams are also able to see information about the same metrics, such as blood pressure or glucose levels, in one place, making it easier to understand and assess individual elements of a patient’s medical history.

The platform can be searched based on medical terminology and clinical shorthand, so that clinicians can simply type what they’re looking for into a search bar to retrieve patient record information. Prescribed medications are all organised together along with dosing and date information, alongside lab results, procedure orders, medication orders and progress notes.

In a blog post, Ascension executive vice president Eduardo Congrado said: “In current EHR systems, clinical information too often is buried in siloed records scattered across hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, pharmacies, physician offices, labs, and other sites of care, making it challenging for physicians and caregivers to efficiently deliver coordinated and precise care. When information is finally retrieved from these disparate EHR systems, it is usually poorly organized and fragmented.”

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In 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google had been working secretly with Ascension since 2018 on an initiative dubbed Project Nightingale. The newspaper reported that at least 150 Google employees had access to data on tens of millions of patients without their knowledge, including detailed medical records, names and birth dates.

At the time, Ascension issued a statement saying the partnership was in compliance with the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Google Health vice president of product and design Paul Muret said in another blog post: “Google does not own, nor do we ever sell, patient data. This data from Care Studio cannot be used for advertising. Our team designed Care Studio to adhere to industry best practices and regulations, including HIPAA. We implement administrative, technical and physical safeguards to protect information. Patient data is encrypted and isolated in a controlled environment, separate from other customer data and consumer data.”

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