Health IT

Alphabet’s DeepMind and VA want to use AI to study patient deterioration

Alphabet’s artificial intelligence arm DeepMind and the Department of Veterans Affairs will analyze patterns from 700,000 historical, depersonalized patient medical records to see if machine learning can pinpoint risk factors for patient deterioration.

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Alphabet’s artificial intelligence arm DeepMind and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have unveiled a research partnership focused on predicting patient deterioration in the hospital setting.

The issue is the cause of approximately 11 percent of in-hospital deaths, NHS research shows.

Together, the organizations will examine 700,000 historical, depersonalized patient medical records. They’ll analyze patterns from the data to see if machine learning can pinpoint risk factors for patient deterioration.

To start, the relationship will zoom in on acute kidney injury, a complication related to patient deterioration. Eventually, DeepMind and the VA plan to study other signs of deterioration, too.

“This project has great potential intelligently to detect and prevent deterioration before patients show serious signs of illness,” DeepMind cofounder Mustafa Suleyman said in a statement. “Speed is vital when a patient is deteriorating: The sooner the right information reaches the right clinician, the sooner the patient can be given the right care.”

VA Secretary David Shulkin agreed. “Clinicians need to be able to identify risks to help prevent disease,” he noted, according to a news release. “This collaboration is an opportunity to advance the quality of care for our nation’s veterans by predicting deterioration and applying interventions early.”

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

In the past, DeepMind has partnered with various hospitals in the United Kingdom to apply AI to studying eye disease, head and neck cancer and more.

But its work hasn’t been free from problems. In 2016, New Scientist reported the National Health Service allowed DeepMind to use patient-specific while the public was left in the dark. At the time, a Google U.K. spokesperson said via email that DeepMind did make “all this public” on its website.

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