The Journal said that "Neither doctors nor patients have been formally notified of the arrangement" and that Google and Ascension began the project "in secret previous year". The Catholic, non-profit has more than 34,000 providers across 21 states and the District of Columbia.
Google has tapped a partnership with a prominent healthcare services company to advance its healthcare software services offerings.
The statement said the joint project aims to "optimize the health and wellness of individuals and communities and deliver a comprehensive portfolio of digital capabilities that enhance the experience of Ascension consumers, patients, and clinical providers across the continuum of care".
"While new technology holds great promise for improving healthcare outcomes, the privacy and security of patients' health data must not be sacrificed to achieve this goal", Severino said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
Privacy experts told the Journal that Google's actions appear to be legal under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
In the post Tuesday, Google released information about a collaboration with United States health systems non-profit Ascension that includes moving data and analytics to a private, secure cloud hosted by the internet firm.
"To be clear. patient data can not and will not be combined with any Google consumer data", the firm added.
Ascension could also use Google computing tools to allow employees to communicate and collaborate securely in real time from different sites, according to the post by Google cloud industry products and solutions president Tariq Shaukat.
HHS didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, and Ascension didn't comment on the HHS probe. In addition, doctors will be given new tools and insight on how to better predict and manage patient needs. Through its advertising business, Google already knows a vast amount about consumers - including what people are interested in, where they are located, and what they watch on YouTube or search for on Google.
In recent days Google also announced it was buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion. "The Department of Health and Human Services actually tracks all of the medical data breaches and actually some of the largest data breaches in history have been medical data breaches".