NHS sharing unfiltered medical data on 1.6M patients with Google AI company

Looking to build better, more predictive medical apps, DeepMind is collecting data on 1.6 million UK hospital patients.
Looking to build better, more predictive medical apps, DeepMind is collecting data on 1.6 million UK hospital patients.

As part of joint venture to develop groundbreaking healthcare apps, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) has contractually agreed to share new and historical healthcare data on 1.6 million patients with Google's artificial intelligence company DeepMind.

In an exclusive report, New Scientist uncovered the terms of the agreement, which presents a myriad of privacy concerns, including whether patients can fully opt out. Essentially, DeepMind will gain comprehensive access to the medical data of patients who visit three London hospitals run by the Royal Free NHS Trust—Barnet General, Chase Farm and Royal Free. The data may reveal drug abuse history, abortions, HIV-positive diagnoses and other sensitive information.

DeepMind originally announced in February that it was partnering with NHS to create an app called Streams that monitors kidney function. It also is implementing an early stage clinical task management app called Hark, designed to help medical experts with their organization and thus provide more efficient care.

According to the agreement, a third party is responsible for storing DeepMind's copies of the patient data, which must be deleted when the agreement expires in Sept. 2017.

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