Google DeepMind: Q&A

4 May 2016

Update September 2019: In November 2016, the Royal Free London entered into a five-year partnership with the British technology company DeepMind. In November 2018, it was announced that Streams, and the team behind it, would move to Google Health UK so that the app can grow and support more doctors to deliver faster, better care to patients. In September 2019, after careful consideration, we have now replaced our partnership agreements to continue our work with Google Health UK.


Following several news stories about the trust's agreement with DeepMind to develop an app aimed at improving the identification and treatment of patients at risk of acute kidney injury, we have prepared a Q&A to address any questions or concerns our patients might have. 

Why are you working with Google DeepMind?

The Royal Free London approached DeepMind with the aim of developing an app that improves the detection of acute kidney injury (AKI) by immediately reviewing blood test results for signs of deterioration and sending an alert and the results to the most appropriate clinician via a dedicated handheld device.

AKI affects more than one in six in-patients and can lead to prolonged hospital stays, admission to critical care units and, in some cases, death.

The Streams app improves the detection of AKI by immediately reviewing blood test results for signs of deterioration and sending an alert and the results to the most appropriate clinician.

Is patient data safe?

The Royal Free London provides DeepMind with NHS patient data in accordance with strict information governance rules and for the purpose of direct clinical care only.

We have used our standard data sharing agreement, which is in line with the legislation and policy requirements as published by the regulators. Over 1,500 third party organisations have undergone similar NHS information governance processes.

All information sent to and processed by DeepMind is encrypted both in transit to, and at rest within, the DeepMind Health cluster.

I am not currently an in-patient, why are you using my data?

All data is shared with the purpose of improving patient safety and care. The Streams app, which is being developed, uses data to provide diagnostic support and track patient outcomes. Therefore, a range of patient data must be analysed. 

Historical data is used to analyse trends and detect historical tests and diagnoses that may affect patient care.

Are you selling patient data?

No. Information is being processed by the Streams app for the purpose of patient care only. We remain the data controller at all times. 

Can I opt out?

As with all information sharing agreements with non-NHS organisations, patients can opt out of any data-sharing system that the Royal Free London uses by contacting the trust’s data protection officer. Full details are available on the trust website. You will need your NHS or MRN number.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact the communications team: or call 020 7317 7740.