Google has been making steps forward in their DeepMind subsidiary since its birth in 2010, perhaps best known for creating an AI that defeated the World’s best Go player in an extraordinary victory. While Google continues pushing the boundaries of AI they have turned their eye to making a positive impact in healthcare with the introduction of DeepMind Health.
DeepMind Health was launched in February 2016 and secured a partnership with the NHS Foundation Trust aiming to develop technologies that will help save lives and improve care.
In early meetings with the NHS Trust, DeepMind discovered a need to improve care for conditions like acute kidney injury (AKI). The AKI condition accounts for 40,000 deaths per year in the UK and NHS England estimates that a quarter of these deaths are preventable.
Although artificial intelligence is a natural focus for DeepMind, the company placed its resources into building a tool that would address the urgent problem of rapidly responding to patient-specific alerts. This led to the creation of Streams, a mobile application used by doctors and nurses. It places test results and vital alerts in the palm of their hands, enabling them to make expert clinical decisions in a relatively short space of time.
The app does not use AI however, it relies on the NHS’s AKI algorithm to obtain results and dramatically speeds up the notification process to relevant doctors and nurses. Not only does Streams enable more time to be focused on patients it also makes communication between different clinicians easy so everyone has the most up-to-date information all the time.
Sarah Stanley, an NHS consultant nurse told Digital Health News that the technology has saved her team a ‘huge amount of time’ and has made a ‘phenomenal’ difference to day-to-day activities. Listen to Sarah talk in this video about the impact Streams is having at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.
While this technology is still in its early stages, AI tools of the future will be able to learn how to analyse test results and images to instantly recognise whether a patient might be at risk. We’ll have to wait and see how effective DeepMind has been in its efforts here. If successful, we could be at the precipice of a technological revolution that can change the way medicine is practised in this country.