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Google DeepMind affected person app legality questioned

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The Streams app is saving nurses hours every day says the Royal Free hospital

The pinnacle of the Division of Well being’s Nationwide Knowledge Guardian (NDG) has criticised the NHS for the deal it struck with Google’s DeepMind over sharing affected person knowledge.

In a letter dated February and leaked to Sky Information, Dame Fiona Caldicott throws doubt on the legality of sharing 1.6 million affected person information.

Sufferers ought to have been knowledgeable concerning the deal, she says.

Google mentioned that the deal was coated by “implied consent”.

This rule exists to permit the NHS to share medical knowledge with third events for direct affected person care, with out informing sufferers about every deal.

Within the case of the partnership with DeepMind, knowledge was collected from sufferers on the Royal Free Hospital Belief in London so as to take a look at an app to assist medical doctors and nurses establish those that may be vulnerable to acute kidney illness.

Implied consent

In her letter to Prof Stephen Powis, medical director of the Royal Free Hospital in London, Dame Fiona mentioned: “We keenly admire the good advantages that new applied sciences corresponding to Streams can provide to sufferers, when it comes to higher, safer, extra well timed care.”

However she added: “It’s completely paramount that that is finished in a clear and safe method, which helps to construct public belief, in any other case the complete advantages of such developments is not going to be realised , and certainly hurt could also be finished.”

She questioned the usage of “implied consent” because the authorized foundation for the switch of identifiable affected person information, as a result of the info was initially used simply to check the app.

“My thought of opinion subsequently stays that it will not have been throughout the cheap expectation of sufferers that their information would have been shared for this function,” she says.

She has written to the Info Commissioner’s Workplace (ICO), which is at present investigating the data-sharing deal and is because of report its findings imminently.

In response to the leaked letter, a Royal Free London consultant mentioned: “The Streams app was inbuilt shut collaboration with clinicians to assist forestall pointless deaths by alerting them to sufferers in want in a matter of seconds.

“It’s now in use on the Royal Free, and helps clinicians present higher, sooner care to our sufferers. Nurses report that it’s saving them hours every day.”

DeepMind mentioned: “We’re glad the NDG has mentioned that additional steerage could be helpful to organisations that are endeavor work to check new applied sciences.”

“The info used to supply the app has all the time been strictly managed by the Royal Free and has by no means been used for industrial functions or mixed with Google merchandise, providers or advertisements – and by no means might be.”

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