A company owned by Google has been given access to the healthcare data of up to 1.6 million patients from three hospitals run by a major London NHS trust. DeepMind, the tech giant's London-based company most famous for its innovative use of artificial intelligence, is being provided with the patient information as part of an agreement with the Royal Free NHS trust, which runs the Barnet, Chase Farm and Royal Free hospitals. It includes information about people who are HIV-positive as well as details of drug overdoses, abortions and patient data from the past five years, according to a report by the New Scientist. DeepMind announced in February that it was developing a software in partnership with NHS hospitals to alert staff to patients at risk of deterioration and death through kidney failure. The technology, which is run through a smartphone app, has the support of Lord Darzi, a surgeon and former health minister who is director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.
Google has been given access to an estimated 1.6 million NHS patient records, it has been revealed. The data-sharing agreement, revealed by New Scientist, includes full names as well as patient histories. Google says it will use the data to develop an early warning system for patients at risk of developing acute kidney injuries. But critics have questioned why it needs the data of all patients to create such a specific app. Under the data-sharing agreement, Google's artificial intelligence division DeepMind will have access to all of the data of patients from the Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals in London going back over the past five years and continuing until 2017.
Google has been granted access to approximately 1.6 million NHS patient records so that its artificial intelligence company can develop an app-based healthcare warning system. According to New Scientist magazine, the data sharing agreement gives Google's artificial intelligence company DeepMind access to patient data at the Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals run by the Royal Free NHS Trust. The deal, which makes five years' worth of data available, will be used by DeepMind to build an app-based early warning system for patients at risk of acute kidney injuries. However, Google has not ruled out using the information for other purposes if it involved improving healthcare. The shared data includes full names and patient histories, as well as sensitive information on HIV testing, details of abortions, drug overdoses and real-time NHS data on admissions, discharges and patient transfers.
Concerns have been raised about the scope of a data-sharing agreement between Google-owned DeepMind and the UK's National Health Service (NHS) after it was revealed the agreement covers access to all patient data from the three London hospitals involved, rather than a more targeted subset of data relating to the specific medical condition the healthcare app in question (Streams) is focused on. Back in February DeepMind announced a collaboration with the NHS to build an app for clinicians treating kidney disease. The company also acquired an existing early stage clinical task management app, called Hark, built by a team from Imperial College London -- evidently with the intention of building on that base tech, but giving it a more specific medical focus in the first instance. The Streams app aims to streamline alerts and access to patient data for doctors and nurses working in the front-line of medical care. But it is not a general medical data alerts or messaging platform.
DeepMind, an artificial intelligence company owned by Google, has attempted to justify why it needs access to millions of NHS patient records for a kidney monitoring app, after a new investigation from New Scientist questioned whether an ethical approval process should have been obtained first. The AI research lab, acquired by Google in 2014 for around 400 million, signed a data-sharing agreement with the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust on 29 September 2015. The agreement gives Google DeepMind access to the names, addresses, and medical conditions of the 1.6 million patients that are treated at Barnet, Chase Farm, and the Royal Free hospitals each year, as well as data on all patients treated by the Trust in the past five years. This week, New Scientist questioned why Google DeepMind needs access to so much data on so many people, including those who have never experienced kidney problems, for the app, which is called Streams. Streams -- used by Royal Free clinicians in three separate trials since December 2015 -- is designed to detect acute kidney injury (AKI), a condition that kills more than 1,000 people a month.