DeepMind Health and de-personalised research data

We're proud to be undertaking research partnerships with world-class hospital groups Moorfields and University College London Hospital, exploring whether AI techniques can be used effectively and safely to support nurses and doctors. The results of this work will be subject to rigorous clinical scrutiny, and will be published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

To do this, we process de-personalised patient data, with identifiable features - such as name or patient number, for example - removed. 

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‘Identifiability spectrum’ by Understanding Patient Data
De-personalised research data, and how it is used

The identifying features that could connect a piece of information to an individual are removed, before the data is used for research.

Our hospital partners decide which types of data are used for research.

In our collaboration with Moorfields, we have been sent one million de-personalised digital eye scans. We use these scans to explore whether AI tools can learn to safely and effectively identify conditions that cause sight loss.

In our collaboration with UCLH, we will work with up to 700 de-personalised CT and MRI scans from former head and neck cancer patients. These scans will be analysed to explore whether AI tools can help reduce the amount of time it takes to plan radiotherapy treatment.

The rules governing our research on de-personalised data

Even though this data is de-personalised, it is still subject to strict controls.  All data is governed by our hospital partners, and vetted by their information governance teams before being sent to DeepMind Health.

Data custodians have been appointed for both partnerships. Their role is to rigorously control the access to the data. Only those who require access to the research data for the purpose of the project are granted access, and all researchers and engineers involved in the study are required to complete thorough training before research work can begin.

For our research project with Moorfields Eye Hospital, all the patient data is de-personalised and was previously collected in the course of normal care. DeepMind has been given permission for data access via a Research Collaboration Agreement with Moorfields Eye Hospital, and an approval to carry out research from the Moorfields Research & Development department through their Research On Anonymised Data (ROAD) approval pathway. The ROAD approval pathway ensures compliance to information governance guidelines, for safe use of NHS data. You can request a copy of the Research Collaboration Agreement and the Research On Anonymised Data (ROAD) form by emailing press.office@moorfields.nhs.uk.

Since the Research Collaboration Agreement was signed, we have submitted an application to the Health Research Authority for an extended version of this project. As part of this work we have published a research protocol on the open access website F1000Research.

For our research project with University College London Hospital, consent for the use of de-personalised data is covered by UCLH’s privacy statement.
 When radiotherapy patients begin treatment, however, UCLH do ask them to sign a consent form which allows their de-personalised data to be used for research purposes. Only patients who have given their consent for their de-personalised data to be used for research purposes are included in this study. A summary of the project is available on the Health Research Authority's website. You can also view a copy of a research protocol we've written for this project on the open access website F1000Research.

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