Google's artificial intelligence unit enters healthcare via medical apps

Alphabet-owned Google DeepMind is expanding its artificial intelligence capabilities from playing the complex board game Go to enabling patient monitoring and optimal treatment.

The London-based company is piloting two apps at area hospitals under its just-launched division, DeepMind Health. The launch of the division mirrors IBM's April decision to create a dedicated healthcare entity within its artificial intelligence platform, dubbed IBM Watson Health.

DeepMind's first app, called Streams, is used to find patient who are at high risk of acute kidney injury. "We can detect from blood test results which patients are at risk," DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman told The Telegraph. "25 percent of deaths are preventable, so there's a really big prize for us."

The app has already been trialed at Royal Free Hospital in North London, and will soon be tested at another one.

Hark app--Courtesy of DeepMind

The team is also working with top surgeons and practitioners on integrating a second app that helps prioritize tasks, dubbed Hark. "The first part is detecting which patients are at risk, and then how we manage all the various clinical interventions is what Hark does," Suleyman told The Telegraph. The app has reportedly prevented deterioration in 38% of patients.

It represents the next stage in DeepMinds' artificial intelligence ambitions: "That's where in the future machine learning comes in, we can identify which tasks have been completed for which patients in which order and optimize that process," Suleyman said in the article.

Bloomberg reports that DeepMind is acquiring the developer of Hark. DeepMind itself was acquired by Alphabet (then Google) for more than $500 million in 2014.

"The people doing the most vulnerable jobs use some of the most out of date hardware available in world today like pagers and even handwritten notes," Lord Darzi, the head of Imperial Health Partners, told The Telegraph. "Yet if updated and made easy to use, it can save lives. A very simple tool was more impactful than a dose of antibiotics."

The company has an alliance with the U.K.'s federal National Health Service, with whom it has a data sharing agreement.

- here's more from The Telegraph
- here's Bloomberg's take