Google DeepMind, the search giant’s artificial intelligence company in London, has officially announced its first big push into medical technology.
The research-intensive startup launched a new division called DeepMind Health and acquired a university spinout company with a healthcare app called Hark.
It has also built an app with the NHS called “Streams.”
DeepMind Health, announced on the DeepMind website on Wednesday, will be led by Mustafa Suleyman, cofounder and head of applied AI at Google DeepMind. He will oversee a team of approximately 15 people aiming to develop digital tools that improve patient care.
So far, DeepMind has built a series of generic self-learning algorithms that can outperform humans on arcade games like Space Invaders and Ping Pong. In March 2016, DeepMind is pitting its AlphaGo algorithm against the world champion of Chinese board game Go, which has been notoriously difficult for computers to master until recently.
But now the company, which employs approximately 150 people in King’s Cross, is making its first foray into more serious areas beyond arcade games.
Suleyman said in a statement:
We’ve learned from doctors and nurses that patient safety comes down to detecting and communicating problems quickly and efficiently. That’s a technology challenge.
We’ve managed to make progress much faster than many people thought possible. We’ve created an awesome alliance of the UK’s best clinicians, best academics, and best technologists to transform the way NHS technology is developed.
It’s super early. But if we get this right, we can help doctors and nurses spend more time providing care, and less time juggling to-do lists.
Lord Darzi, director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, said in a statement: “It is incredibly exciting to have DeepMind — the world’s most exciting technology company and a true UK success story — working directly with NHS staff. The types of clinician-led technology collaborations that Mustafa Suleyman and DeepMind Health are supporting show enormous promise for patient care.”
DeepMind’s own app, “Streams,” allows clinicians to instantly review results and trend analyses on mobile and — where necessary — accelerate care for deteriorating patients.
Consultant nephrologist and associate medical director for patient safety at the Royal Free Hospital London, Dr Chris Laing, who helped design the app and oversaw two initial pilots at the Royal Free, said: “Using Streams meant I was able to review blood test results for patients at risk of AKI within seconds of it becoming available. This system of direct alerts and the ability to prioritise patients was just not possible previously. By using Streams, I intervened earlier and was able to improve the care of over half the patients Streams identified in our pilot studies.”
He added: “The speed at which the team from DeepMind Health have stepped up to the challenge has been really exciting, and shows the enormous potential for these kinds of collaborations.”