Despite data controversy, Google DeepMind extends rollout of Streams app.

By Jonah Comstock
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DeepMind, the AI-focused, UK-based Google subsidiary, will roll out its Streams app in a second hospital, the company announced this week. The deployment of the app at Musgrove Park Hospital marks the start of a planned five-year rollout with the Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

Streams has been developed in collaboration with kidney experts at the Royal Free Hospital London. The app is designed to help doctors get information about their acute kidney failure patients, including blood tests, faster, which will enable faster diagnostics in situations where time is of the essence. The app uses 'breaking news' alerts to make sure doctors' attention is directed to the patients who need it the most in the moment.

“Nurses and doctors already using Streams are telling us that it is helping them deliver faster and better care for their patients," Dr. Dominic King, clinical lead at DeepMind Health, said in a statement. "The Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is well-known for its pioneering approach to healthcare technology, so it’s incredibly exciting to be working with the outstanding clinical team there, on the shared goal of improving outcomes for patients.” 

DeepMind has been under fire in the press and from the UK government over the past year after an investigative report by the New Scientist revealed that Google would have access to a huge trove of patient data without the patients' express consent, a potential violation of NHS information governance principles. 

In a new partnership agreement with its first test site, the Royal Free Trust, DeepMind added provisions to log all data collected and used, and to subject it to review by a panel of nine independent reviewers. In addition, Ben Laurie, co-founder of the OpenSSL project, has been hired to build a system that will allow the Royal Free Trust to audit Google's use of patient information on an ongoing basis. But this move hasn't completely assuaged the UK's concerns.

In a blog post announcing the new partnership with Taunton and Somerset, DeepMind didn't mention the data controversy per se, but did share some details likely meant to quell those concerns.

"Members of the DeepMind team will be working alongside Taunton staff to engage patients, giving people an opportunity to ask questions about Streams and any other aspect of our work," the company wrote. "These events will take place before any patient data is processed by DeepMind. All patient data will be stored to world-leading standards of security and encryption in a facility in England, separated at all times from any other systems."