Researching for tomorrow

DeepMind Health and research collaborations   

Each scan and test result contains crucial information about whether a patient is at risk of a serious condition, and what needs to be done. Being able to interpret that information quickly and accurately is essential for hospitals to be able to save lives. Right now, 1 in 10 NHS in-patients suffers some form of avoidable harm, because this information isn't interpreted and acted on in time.

AI systems could be hugely beneficial in helping with this process. Rather than programming systems by hand to recognise the potential signs of illness, which is often impossible given the number of different factors at play, AI systems can be trained to learn how to interpret test results for themselves. In time, they should also be able to learn which types of treatments are most effective for different patients.

This could enable a series of benefits across the NHS, including:

  1. Improved equality of access to care. Demands on the NHS are felt more acutely in certain areas of the country, and within certain departments in hospitals, than others. If we can train and use AI systems to provide world-class diagnostic support, it should help provide more consistently excellent care.
  2. Increased speed of careWe hope that AI technologies will provide quick initial assessments of a patient to help clinicians prioritise better, meaning patients go from test to treatment faster.
  3. Potential for new methods of diagnosis. AI has the potential to find new ways to diagnose conditions, by uncovering and interpreting subtle relationships between different symptoms and test results. In theory, this could lead to even earlier diagnosis of complex conditions.
  4. Continual learning and improvement. Because AI tools get better over time, they will also help hospitals to continually learn about the approaches that help patients most. This could help the NHS become more effective with every patient it treats.  

This highly innovative and exciting research is so crucial... it is a future illuminated with hope.”

Elaine Manna, patient at Moorfields
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An OCT scan of a member of the DeepMind Health team's eye

We're still in the early stages of AI research in health, and our work is based on deep collaboration with our clinical partners.

We currently work with two NHS hospitals to combine their clinical expertise with our machine learning technology, and together we ensure that the research we undertake will have practical benefits and save lives. The results of this work will be subject to rigorous clinical scrutiny, and will be published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Today our research is centred on a technique called deep learning. Our algorithms interpret visual information in the form of de-personalised scans (head and neck scans at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, eye scans at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust). The system is learning how to identify potential issues within these scans, and how to recommend the right course of action to a clinician. 

As the algorithm processes more scans, it refines its understanding and interpretation of the information. It then provides increasingly useful feedback, and segmentation, of the data for the clinicians to use for better diagnoses and treatment.

All research projects go through rigorous regulatory and Trust approvals and are conducted only on non-identifiable patient data. You can read more about the healthcare research permissions process on our data and security page.

For more details about our research collaborations with Moorfields and UCLH, please see the links below.

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