FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google signed its biggest cloud computing customer in healthcare yet, according to an announcement on Monday, gaining with the deal datasets that could help it tune potentially lucrative artificial intelligence tools.
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported Google teaming up with Ascension to collect personal health-related information of millions of Americans across 21 states. (on.wsj.com/2q3WCer)
The partnership will also explore artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to help improve clinical effectiveness as well as patient safety, Ascension said in a statement.
Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian has made it a priority in his first year on the job to aggressively chase business from leaders in six industries, including healthcare.
The company previously had touted smaller healthcare clients, such as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine.
Google has spent several years developing artificial intelligence to automatically analyze MRI scans and other patient data to identify diseases and make predictions aimed at improving outcomes and reducing cost.
Ascension, which operates 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities across United States, said the partnership is in compliance with the U.S. data privacy act HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which safeguards medical information.
The Journal reported that the data involved in the project includes lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, complete with patient names and dates of birth.
The news follows an earlier announcement from Google that it would buy Fitbit Inc (FIT.N) for $2.1 billion, aiming to enter the wearables segment and invest in digital health.
Reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco and Ambhini Aishwarya in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta