Google Open up on DeepMind NHS Function

There has been considerable controversy regarding the new collaboration between Google and the NHS, with the DeepMind project at the heart of this agreement.

In this second article on the subject, the Healthcare Times examines the modus operandi behind this new and contentious project.

DeepMind is an artificial intelligence lab in London that creates what are referred to as general purpose self-learning algorithms.

The company was acquired by Google for what is believed to be £400 million back in 2014, and is most obviously associated with creating software which has mastered games such as Go and Space Invaders.

Google is now collaborating with the NHS over healthcare, but the agreement has attracted its fair share of critics.

Nonetheless, Mustafa Suleyman, DeepMind cofounder and head of DeepMind Health, recently gave a talk at the King’s Fund in London, during which he explained some of the advantages that Google believes DeepMind offers the health service.

Suleyman firstly explained how he believed technology of this nature will play an increasing role in the NHS of the future.

“How might patient care be better supported by technology? Obviously, there’s an enormous opportunity for improvement. One in ten patients experience some kind of harm in hospitals and half of those are completely preventable or avoidable harm. In many of those cases, detection of the patient deterioration in question, has actually been delayed. And that’s a communication and a coordination issue.”

Suleyman suggested that large amounts of valuable data is never tracked nor assessed, and that DeepMind could help in addressing this.

“I think because of these current limitations, most of the really valuable data sits on paper and on charts, and isn’t logged or tracked or recorded. There’s no auditable log that you can verify of the pager messages that have been sent, the reminder messages that have been sent. So I think there’s two core patient safety challenges that have framed everything that we do in DeepMind Health. The first is how can we do a better job of identifying which patients are at risk of deterioration, largely in real time.”

The Google executive also spoke on how the NHS may intervene to cope with such data issues.

“The second is, once we’ve identified which patients are at risk, how do we actually intervene? We don’t want this to just end up as a report that advises on some reorganisation of facilities on a ward. We actually want to deploy technology in real time that enables clinicians to do a better job of escalation and intervention.”

In our next article on this topic, we will address the projects that Google is currently working on with the NHS.


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