Healthcare giant Ascension, which operates Binghamton's Lourdes Hospital, is working with Google to collect the personal information of thousands of patients.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the existence of the initiative dealing with personal health data.

The story revealed Google launched the program with Ascension in secret last year. The report indicated neither patients nor doctors had been notified of the initiative.

A Lourdes Hospital spokeswoman declined to comment on the data collection effort, referring to a statement issued by Ascension.

The corporate statement indicated Ascension's work with Google complies with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The statement also said the program is "underpinned by a robust data security and protection effort and adherence to Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling."

According to the Wall Street Journal report, some Ascension employees questioned the way the information was being collected and shared.

Now that the initiative has been made public, it's not known whether Ascension facilities will begin advising patients of the Google collaboration.

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