Tuesday 22 November 2016 5:06 pm

Google's DeepMind wants to make doctor's paperwork obsolete in new NHS deal

DeepMind, the UK company leading the way in artificial intelligence research, is doubling down on applying its technology to healthcare which could save the NHS millions of pounds as well as time spent on paperwork.

It has signed a five-year deal with a London NHS Trust to put into practice a prototype app designed to identify those at risk of developing acute kidney injury (AKI) at several hospitals in the capital.

An initial trial project with Royal Free London created Stream, which will now be rolled out to clinicians early next year after being registered with the medicines and healthcare product watchdog. It will also has ambitious plans to expand the tool to cover other illnesses such as sepsis and organ failure.

Read more: I would trust Google with my personal data more than the NHS

It brings together clinical information usually collected as notes putting all the information together in one place on a smartphone and it includes alerts and notifications.

It's believed Stream can reduce the time doctors are alerted to patient needs in certain cases, from hours to just seconds. Royal Free London said more than half a million hours each year could be redirected from managing paperwork, pagers and other communications systems towards hands-on patient care.

The sharing of data with the company which is owned by Google has caused concern among some privacy experts.

Watch: How DeepMind and Royal Free London NHS Trust are working together

However, the firm has responded by setting up an independent review board, which will keep an eye on how the data is used.

The experts from the tech and medical world include tech investor Eileen Burbidge, editor-in-chief of the Lancet Richard Horton, professor of medicine at University College London Sir John Tooke and former UK government chief digital officer Mike Bracken, who now leads Co-operative Group's digital efforts.

“Privacy and trust are paramount, and we’re holding ourselves to an unprecedented level of oversight by publishing our agreements publicly and engaging nine respected public figures to scrutinise our work in the public interest," said Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind which was named most innovative company of the year at the City A.M. awards.

Read more: Could AI halt blindness? DeepMind and this London hospital are finding out

It will also be reviewed by both the company and the trust, and the data will remain encrypted and will not be shared with Google. The UK data regulator is carrying out an ongoing investigation into data sharing between the two.

Chief executive of the trust David Sloman said: "We are hugely excited by the opportunity this partnership presents to patients and staff. We want to lead the way in healthcare technology and this new clinical app will enable us to provide safer and faster care to patients – which will save lives.

“Doctors and nurses currently spend far too much time on paperwork, and we believe this technology could substantially reduce this burden, enabling doctors and nurses to spend more time on what they do best – treating patients."