Google has this week officially swallowed DeepMind Health and its team into its new health division.

Google had announced last November that it would transfer control of DeepMind to a new Google Health division in California, as it invests in commercialising its medical research efforts.

The development comes after the co-founder of London-based DeepMind announced last month that he was taking an extended leave of absence from the firm. Mustafa Suleyman left the company, amid speculation that parent company Google had taken over the bulk of his responsibilities.

DeepMind Integration

The news that DeepMind’s health division has completed its move to Google’s control came a in a blog post from Dr Dominic King, UK Site Lead at Google Health.

“Today, with our healthcare partners, the team is excited to officially join the Google Health family,” said Dr King. “Under the leadership of Dr. David Feinberg, and alongside other teams at Google, we’ll now be able to tap into global expertise in areas like app development, data security, cloud storage and user-centered design to build products that support care teams and improve patient outcomes.”

“It’s clear that a transition like this takes time. Health data is sensitive, and we gave proper time and care to make sure that we had the full consent and cooperation of our partners,” he added.

DeepMind was acquired by Google for a reported £400 million in 2014.

NHS data

The firm has had its moments in the spotlight, most notably in 2017 when a war of words erupted between Deepmind and the authors of an academic paper, which fiercely criticised a NHS patient data sharing deal.

The academic paper was published in Health and Technology, and alleged that “inexcusable” mistakes were made when DeepMind Health signed a data sharing agreement with hospitals run by London’s Royal Free NHS Trust.

The agreement was linked to the development of a mobile application called Streams by DeepMind, aimed at helping hospital staff monitor patients with kidney disease.

The UK’s data regulator ruled that the hospital had not told patients enough about the way their data was used – but said the app could continue to be used if the “shortcomings” were addressed.

The app has since been praised by the hospital trust for speeding up kidney diagnoses.

The movement of DeepMind personnel into Google’s control had been delayed as National Health Service (NHS) trusts considered whether to shift their existing DeepMind contracts to Google.

The Royal Free NHS Trust, Taunton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have all put out statements confirming they have moved their contractual arrangements to Google.

Only one, Yeovil District Hospital, has declined to transfer to Google Health, citing reasons of need, rather than concerns over privacy.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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