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Hospital trust partners with AI firm for healthcare tech



Royal Free London Trust and DeepMind mark announcement with launch of first clinical app

A London hospital trust has entered a partnership with an artificial intelligence (AI) company to develop new digital solutions for healthcare, with the first step being the launch of a mobile clinical application for detecting acute kidney injury (AKI).

The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust has announced a five-year deal with DeepMind, which became established as one of the leaders in the field when it was acquired by Google in 2014.

It follows on from a year-long partnership between the two organisations, in which they have developed the Streams app, which processes new and historic patient data to support clinicians in making diagnoses.

It has now been registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and will be deployed to the foundation’s clinicians from early next year.

Life saver

David Sloman, chief executive of the Royal Free London, 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."

The app works through taking clinical data such as the results of blood tests, streaming it over an encrypted link to a data processor, where it is then analysed in real time against the patient history to spot changes in acute signs. It integrates data from multiple systems from different laboratories to compare changes in the kidney function between tests.

Royal Free London and DeepMinds plan to further develop Streams, so it will provide instantaneous alerts to doctors and nurses, and be used for dealing with other patient conditions such as sepsis and organ failure. The app’s infrastructure is built on open and interoperable standards that should enable developers to build new services more easily and integrate it with other systems.

Lower barrier

Mustafa Sulyman, co-founder and head of applied AI at DeepMind, said in a company blogpost that this would lower the barrier for entry to developers, and open up the potential for new AI tools in healthcare.

The trust said the first iteration of Streams could contribute to reducing the number of patients admitted to intensive care by about 40%.

All the data used is stored in a UK data centre that has passed NHS audits. The trust said it cannot be combined with any Google services or accounts under any circumstances.

Image from Royal Free London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

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