Royal Free patient data sharing app already saving lives

Afia Ahmed, baby Aleeza, husband Raquib Ahmed, daughter Arifa Ahmed, aged 7. Photo: UCL Creatives

Afia Ahmed, baby Aleeza, husband Raquib Ahmed, daughter Arifa Ahmed, aged 7. Photo: UCL Creatives - Credit: Archant

When Hampstead mum Afia Ahmed suffered complications following the birth of her daughter last month it was a new app being piloted by her doctors which helped save her life.

Afia, 38, who underwent an emergency caesarean last month at the Royal Free, developed sepsis with then led to Acute Kidney Infection (AKI).

Using data from Afia’s blood test, the Streams app detected a problem with her kidney function and an alert was sent to a specialist kidney doctor.

The kidney specialist gave guidance to the obstetrics team on Afia’s condition and advised them on adjustment of her antibiotics, intravenous fluid treatment and stopping pain killers that might put a strain on her kidneys.

Afia, pictured with her family, said: “It was great that a kidney doctor could be there to help with my treatment.

“I was really unwell so I didn’t know what was going on all the time, but it was good to know I had a range of different specialists taking care of me.”

The Royal Free has hailed the early success of this Streams app which is being trialled as part of a five-year partnership with Google’s DeepMind, an artificial intelligence company.

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The scheme attracted serious concern when it was first piloted last year, as it uses detailed historical data from Royal Free patients in order to analyse trends and detect historical diagnoses.

Under the data-sharing agreement, DeepMind has access to all of the data of patients over the past five years.

A Royal Free spokesman previously told the Ham&High that all data is encrypted, collected in accordance with strict rules, and no data will be shared which could identify individual patients.

DeepMind is now working on more alerts for patients with sepsis and organ failure as part of the partnership.

More than 26 doctors and nurses at the Royal Free Hospital are now using Streams and each day it is alerting them to an average of 11 patients at risk of AKI.

Chris Laing, a renal consultant who has worked with DeepMind to develop Streams, said: “The app is delivering cultural change to the way technology is being used to improve patient care.

“The technology is no longer passive, but is actively helping us to provide better and timelier care to patients.

“For example, on one day this week, the app alerted us to 11 patients, ranging from a young cancer patient to an elderly patient suffering life-threatening dehydration, who were at risk of developing AKI.”

Deep Minds entered into a five-year partnership with Imperial College London in December, which also involves data sharing.