Our partnership with Ascension

Today, we’re proud to announce more details on our partnership with Ascension, one of the nation’s leading non-profit health systems, to support them with technology that helps them to deliver better care to patients across the United States. There’s been a good deal of speculation on this partnership, so we want to make sure everyone has the facts.

First: What is the work we’re doing with Ascension? Back in July, on our Q2 earnings call, we announced “Google Cloud’s AI and ML solutions are helping healthcare organizations like Ascension improve the healthcare experience and outcomes.” Our work with Ascension is exactly that—a business arrangement to help a provider with the latest technology, similar to the work we do with dozens of other healthcare providers.These organizations, like Ascension, use Google to securely manage their patient data, under strict privacy and security standards. They are the stewards of the data, and we provide services on their behalf.

Our work with Ascension focuses on three things: 

  • Shifting Ascension’s infrastructure to the cloud: The partnership will modernize Ascension’s infrastructure, enabling them to migrate their on-premise data warehouse and analytics environments to their own private and secure Google Cloud environment. Key elements of this work will focus on network and system connectivity, data integration, privacy and security, and compliance.

  • Using G Suite productivity tools: This will enhance Ascension employees’ ability to communicate and collaborate securely in real time, supporting interdisciplinary care and operations teams across Ascension sites of care.

  • Extending tools to doctors and nurses to improve care: We aim to provide tools that Ascension could use to support improvements in clinical quality and patient safety.

Second: What about patient data? All of Google’s work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations (including HIPAA) regarding patient data, and come with strict guidance on data privacy, security and usage. We have a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with Ascension, which governs access to Protected Health Information (PHI) for the purpose of helping providers support patient care. This is standard practice in healthcare, as patient data is frequently managed in electronic systems that nurses and doctors widely use to deliver patient care. To be clear: under this arrangement, Ascension’s data cannot be used for any other purpose than for providing these services we’re offering under the agreement, and patient data cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data. 

Finally: Some of the solutions we are working on with Ascension are not yet in active clinical deployment, but rather are in early testing. This is one of the reasons we used a code name for the work—in this case, “Nightingale.”

It’s understandable that people want to ask questions about our work with Ascension. We’re proud of the important work we’re doing as a cloud technology partner for healthcare companies. Modernizing the healthcare industry is a critically important task, with the ultimate result not just digital transformation, but also improving patient outcomes and saving lives.