Google, in partnership with Ascension, a healthcare provider operating in more than 20 states, is planning to build a search tool for medical professionals that will employ machine learning algorithms to process data and make suggestions about prescriptions, diagnoses, and even which doctors to assign to, or remove from, a patient’s team. In other words, eliminating personal choice from healthcare decision making by reducing choice to an algorithm.
In running this program, neither the affected patients nor Ascension doctors were made aware of the project. And again, all parties assert that HIPAA, the package of privacy regulations protecting patient data, allows for the use of this data in this manner. Clearly Google attorney’s believe they have found a loophole in HIPAA which allows this. Otherwise, Google wouldn't have invested billions of dollars into this program. See this post on CERGM for more details.
Prologue by R Carter
Between 1999 and 2010 the primary driving force behind believing opioid prescribing was the cause for opioid overdose deaths, were the trend lines between rising numbers of prescriptions written when compared to the number of opioid overdose deaths occurring. Not a rock solid, "you can definitely connect the dots conclusion", but a matter worthy of further investigation. Yet this narrative is the one cemented in the minds of health professionals and the public alike, due to how information was presented by the media.
This article, "The True Cause of the Opioid Epidemic", published in The Atlantic January 2020, covers Jennifer Silva, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Bucknell University and what she discovered when she began interviewing people in the coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania, about how the poor and working-class Americans were affected by the collapse of the coal industry. Common sense applies that if job loss alone is driving Americans to abuse illegal opioids out of despair, then those with legitimate medical need who have been abandoned by their doctors, have in essence, been thrown to the wolves by our counties policies on prescribing for chronic pain conditions. Fueling a problem that was supposed to be a solution.