The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and British tech group DeepMind, the artificial intelligence unit of Google, have announced a landmark partnership that aims to transform patient care via a "ground-breaking" new mobile clinical app.
The app, called Streams, has been designed to improve outcomes by getting "the right data to the right clinician at the right time", notifying nurses and doctors immediately when test results show a patient is at risk of becoming seriously ill.
In the first instance, the app has been developed to help clinicians detect acute kidney injury (AKI) at its earliest stages, to prevent serious illness and death, and it is due to be deployed to clinicians across the Royal Free Hospital from early next year for this purpose.
The technology allows blood tests and other relevant clinical data to be streamed over a secure encrypted link to a data processor and analysed in real-time. Any potential significant changes in serum creatinine, suggesting an acute kidney injury, can be detected within seconds, triggering alert messages to a specialist's mobile device, along with relevant patient history.
"Clinicians face real challenges when it comes to detecting conditions like AKI - patients deteriorate rapidly and it can be hours before this is picked up due to the limitations of current NHS technology and the reliance on manual observations and intuition," said Stephen Powis, medical director, Royal Free London. "This is about bringing information to doctors and nurses, much in the way we get news alerts on our phones. We know that a quarter of deaths from AKI are preventable if clinicians are able to intervene earlier and more effectively."
Under the new five-year partnership, extra features will be added to Streams, and its use will be expanded to support doctors and nurses in caring for patients at risk of other illnesses such as sepsis and organ failure. This should reduce the number of patients who deteriorate in hospital without health professionals being aware of it and therefore the number that die from entirely preventable causes.
According to the groups, some 40 percent of patients could avoid being admitted to intensive care if the right clinician was able to take the right action sooner. Streams technology could also substantially reduce administrative burden, enabling doctors and nurses at the Royal Free London alone to redirect an estimated 500,000 hours per year into direct patient care.
To allay concerns over privacy, the partnership stressed that it will introduce an "unprecedented level of data security and audit", with all data access logged and subject to review by the Royal Free London as well as DeepMind Health's nine Independent Reviewers. DeepMind's software and data centres will also undergo "deep technical audits" by external experts, it said, and emphasised that any data accessed by Streams "can never be combined with any Google services or accounts under any circumstances".
"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 scrutinise our work in the public interest." DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman.