Search

Royal Free faces criticism for sharing patient data with Google

PUBLISHED: 11:48 05 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:48 05 May 2016

The application sends alerts and results directly to the clinician's smartphone.

The application sends alerts and results directly to the clinician's smartphone.

Archant

The Royal Free NHS Trust has defended its decision to share the medical records of 1.6 million patients with Google whilst piloting a new healthcare application.

The collaboration, announced in February, has been accused of not fully disclosing the nature of the agreement with web giant Google.

The application is called Streams and has been designed, by both Google DeepMind and clinicians, to improve the detection of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), which affects over one in six in-patients.

A New Scientist report suggested DeepMind - an artificial intelligence company acquired by Google in 2014 - “has plans for a lot more” than enabling early diagnosis of kidney problems because it has access to all medical information.

This accusation was sparked after the data sharing agreement between Google and the Royal Free was published, revealing the application has access to five years of medical history as well as A&E visits, inpatient visits and pathology results.

But Google and The Royal Free explained to the Ham&High that, in order to detect AKI, clinicians need access to a wide range of medical information.

Dominic King, senior clinician scientist at DeepMind said: “Access to timely and relevant clinical data is essential for doctors and nurses looking for signs of patient deterioration. This work focuses on acute kidney injuries that contribute to 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, many of which are preventable. To generate these alerts it is necessary for us to look at a range of tests taken at different times.”

Privacy campaigners fear this puts patients at risk of a confidentiality breach, but a Google spokeswoman emphasised that patient data is encrypted, not shared with any other part of Google, and stored separately in the UK.

She added that Google had the highest level of information governance approval - higher than that of most NHS trusts.

In addition, the data sharing contract is no different to similar data sharing agreements between NHS trusts and third party service providers all over the country - for example patient record database Cerner.

The pilot came about after the Royal Free approached DeepMind with plans to codevelop the app, which works by sending results and alerts about high-risk patients to the clinicians’ smartphone.

There is no commercial agreement and after it ends in 2017, Google will have to destroy all records.

A trust spokesman said: “The Royal Free London provides DeepMind with NHS patient data in accordance with strict information governance rules and for the purpose of direct clinical care only.

“No patient-identifiable data is shared with DeepMind. All information sent to and processed by DeepMind is encrypted and is only decrypted once returned to the clinician’s device.”

Following the Caldicott Information Governance Review in 2013 - carried out to establish a balance between patient protection and the use of medical data to improve healthcare - health authorities rely on “implied consent” with sharing patient data.

The spokesman added: “As with all information sharing agreements with non-NHS organisations, patients can opt out of any data-sharing system that the Royal Free London uses by contacting the trust’s data protection officer.”

Details are available at: www.royalfree.nhs.uk/patients-visitors/privacy-statement/

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 16:24

Normally we celebrate one business of the week – but today we’ve got three!

Yesterday, 23:41

I live in the north west of London in the United Kingdom. Like the rest of the country, I have been looking on in bewilderment at the Brexit deal while politicians on both sides of the house vie for political supremacy. Divisions in government make for good news headlines but do nothing for the public’s confidence in its institutions.

Yesterday, 15:17

A Routemaster bus will take 72 passengers on a journey through Greek Cypriot history, via Camden and Holloway, on Sunday.

Yesterday, 12:12

The latest twist in the saga of a Hampstead landlord who refuses to pay a controversial levy saw him bring a top barrister to his court hearing.

Yesterday, 09:48

Opponents of the 100 Avenue Road development suffered a major blow last night as Camden voted through a controversial plan that will funnel seven lorries a day through residential streets in Swiss Cottage.

Thu, 17:35

The families left homeless by the fire that destroyed the upper floors of Willow House in East Finchley last week said Barnet Council treated them “like ants to be squashed” in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

Thu, 12:44

The Temple Fortune community was celebrating on Tuesday after Barnet’s Finchley and Golders Green planning committee unanimously rejected plans to build housing on the old Templars Tennis Club.

Thu, 12:10

Tens of thousands of pounds, weapons and drugs were seized after searching a garage in the Peckwater Estate on Tuesday morning.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now