Google's AI research lab is going to start meeting NHS patients as it pushes deeper into healthcare

DeepMind Mustafa SuleymanGoogle DeepMindDeepMind cofounder and head of DeepMind Health Mustafa Suleyman.

An AI research lab owned by Google is going to start meeting NHS patients as it looks to be more open and transparent about how it helps doctors and clinicians to do their jobs.

DeepMind, as the startup is known, intends to hold four patient meet ups a year at Google’s new London office in King’s Cross, with the first “patient engagement forum” taking place in September in an event that will be streamed on YouTube, alongside a live Twitter Q&A.

The patient meet ups are taking place because DeepMind wants to get the public on side as it looks to expand its relationship with the NHS. The events will give members of the public the opportunity to ask DeepMind staff about its NHS partnerships and to learn how the Google-owned company intends to improve their healthcare.

Founded in 2011 by Demis Hassabis, Mustafa Suleyman and Shane Legg, DeepMind faced criticism from privacy campaigners and some patients after it emerged in May that it had access to millions of NHS patient records.

“One of the things that we’ve learned from that experience was to make sure that we have not just nurses and doctors leading everything that we do but patients themselves involved at every step of the way,” Suleyman told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday. “So we’re going to be launching our first patient engagement forum on 25th September.”

6 Pancras SquareBNP ParibasThe ‘patient engagement forums’ will take place at Google’s new London office.

Suleyman added: “Any patient is welcome. They don’t have to be a patient at one of the hospitals that we’re collaborating with. They’re invited to come and look at what we’re doing in more detail, ask us questions, give us feedback, make suggestions about things that we can improve, or new features that we might want to add, or new products that we might want to build, and generally tell us what they think about us being involved in healthcare and having access to data.”

DeepMind has publicly announced that it is working with the NHS on two main projects. The first is a kidney monitoring app called Streams, which is designed to help clinicians working across three London hospitals operated by the Royal Free Trust to detect early signs of acute kidney injury (AKI) in patients. The second involves helping Moorfields Eye Hospital to detect early signs of eye diseases that can eventually lead to blindness with its machine learning technology.

A review panel has also been set up to monitor DeepMind’s work with the NHS. The panel held its first meeting at the start of summer.

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