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Google DeepMind applies AI to healthcare with NHS partnership

Thu 25 Feb 2016

Nurse with iPad

Google’s London-based AI group DeepMind has launched DeepMind Health, teaming up with the NHS to work on its first project.

The ‘neuroscience-inspired’ company, bought by Google in 2014, said of the collaboration: “We want to see the NHS thrive, and to ensure that its talented clinicians get the tools and support they need to continue providing world-class care.”

Working alongside kidney experts at London’s Royal Free Hospital, DeepMind Health has developed a mobile app called Streams. The software is designed to support the provision of critical information to doctors and nurses in order to help detect the presence of acute kidney injuries (AKI). The AI team involved in the kidney research explained that AKI was a contributing factor in around 20% of emergency hospital admissions, and 40,000 deaths in the UK every year – 25% of which are preventable, according to NHS England estimates.

To support the development of the Streams app, DeepMind Health has acquired clinical task management app company Hark. DeepMind is planning to integrate Hark capabilities into Streams over the coming months.

Although DeepMind has been brief in detailing its plans for its Health division, it suggested that while the project is in early stages, the problems that it hopes to address “are fundamental to the NHS.”

“The hope is that these tools can help shift more resources away from reaction and towards better prevention. Ultimately the aim is to give nurses and doctors more time to focus on what’s most important,” the team added.

As the use of AI in such a personal area is a sensitive issue, DeepMind confirmed that any patient health data would be handled with the “utmost care and respect” – “We have, and will always, hold ourselves to the highest possible standards of patient data protection.” It also added that a volunteer group of independent reviewers would be monitoring the AI group’s data sharing, privacy and security practices each quarter, and would also be issuing a report annually.

DeepMind Health explained that all patient data would always be stored within the UK, and would never be attached or associated with Google accounts, products or services.


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