The British artificial intelligence company DeepMind, owned by Google, has created DeepMind Health, a new medical technology division that will work to improve the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Streams, one of the division’s first projects, was developed along with the digital product studio ustwo. Streams is an app that helps to detect acute kidney injury by immediately alerting medical staff of patients’ blood test results. Because this condition affects around 20% of those admitted into emergency care in the UK, an improvement to detection rates could save thousands of lives each year.

Another project that has shown promise is Hark, an app that helps clinicians manage tasks. The app is based around the notion that doctors and nurses can maximize patient care by minimizing administrative work. A trial at St Mary’s Hospital in London showed that response times of medical staff improved by 37% when using Hark.

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For now, DeepMind Health’s projects do not involve AI or machine learning, but this is likely to change as the division expands. And already, companies around the world are experimenting with initiatives to integrate artificial intelligence with healthcare.

In Japan, Hitachi’s AI system uses medical data from groups of employees to predict an individual’s five-year chance of developing lifestyle-related diseases. In the US, IBM Watson for Oncology can diagnose lung cancer with 90% accuracy, and AICure uses mobile technology and facial recognition to ensure that patients are taking the right medication at the right time.

As health institutions buckle under the strain of supporting aging populations and treating a growing number of lifestyle-related diseases, AI offers a chance to achieve greater value and cost efficiencies. Done properly, this could lead to better care for consumers with a lower price tag. We can expect to see more technology initiatives in healthcare that aren’t just aimed at healthcare institutions, but at improving the doctor-patient relationship.

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