DeepMind Health, NHS to (re)introduce the Streams app in early 2017

Streams app

Google-owned DeepMind Health has inked a fresh data-sharing agreement with the NHS Royal Free Hospital Trust in London, TechCrunch is reporting.

This is the second deal between the two parties, and it supersedes their original agreement inked last year, which ran into controversy after a freedom of information request by New Scientist revealed that Royal Free was providing DeepMind with patient identifiable medical data (PID). That data was being used to power an app called Streams, built by DeepMind but using an NHS algorithm to generate alerts on patients at risk of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI).

After the controversy, Streams app was abandoned — but now we know — only for the moment. The project has been re-announced, though this time the UK government won’t provide patients’ data in a way it previously did.

The application has now been registered as a medical device with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and is ready to be deployed in the Royal Free’s hospitals from early next year. Also, beyond AKI, the app will also be used to cover early detection of sepsis and organ failure.

“The ultimate version of the Streams app will alert doctors and nurses to patients who need their attention in seconds rather than hours, reducing the number of patients who deteriorate in hospital without a clinician being aware,” the press release reads.

Google’s big data division obviously learned from this mistake, and will take extra steps to make sure no patient data is misused. “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 scrutinize our work in the public interest,” DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman said in a statement.

The general public may still be skeptical though, and there’s a good reason for that considering the volume of data parts of NHS will hand out to one of the biggest companies in the world. Nevertheless, this is a way forward, and without tech giants like Google, chances are all that data would remain unused…