When we set up DeepMind Health we believed that pioneering technology should be matched with pioneering oversight. That’s why when we launched in February 2016, we did so with an unusual and additional mechanism: a panel of Independent Reviewers, who meet regularly throughout the year to scrutinise our work. This is an innovative approach within tech companies - one that forces us to question not only what we are doing, but how and why we are doing it - and we believe that their robust challenges make us better.
In their report last year, the Independent Reviewers asked us important questions about our engagement with stakeholders, data governance, and the behavioural elements that need to be considered when deploying new technologies in clinical environments. We’ve done a lot over the past twelve months to address these questions, and we’re really proud that this year’s Annual Report recognises the progress we’ve made.
Of course, this year’s report includes a series of new recommendations for areas where we can continue to improve, which we’ll be working on in the coming months. In particular:
- We’re developing our longer-term business model and roadmap, and look forward to sharing our ideas once they’re further ahead. Rather than charging for the early stages of our work, our first priority has been to prove that our technologies can help improve patient care and reduce costs. We believe that our business model should flow from the positive impact we create, and will continue to explore outcomes-based elements so that costs are at least in part related to the benefits we deliver.
- We will explore further ways to ensure there is clarity about the binding legal frameworks that govern all our NHS partnerships. Trusts remain in full control of the data at all times. We are legally and contractually bound to only using patient data under the instructions of our partners. We will continue to make our legal agreements with Trusts publicly available to allow scrutiny of this important point.
- We will continue to grow our user testing groups with clinicians and patients to diversify the feedback we receive and ensure we remain mindful of the realities of clinical practice.
- We will remain vigilant about setting the highest possible standards of information governance. At the beginning of this year, we appointed a full time Information Governance Manager to oversee our use of data in all areas of our work. We are also continuing to build our Verifiable Data Audit and other tools to clearly show how we’re using data.
- We will continue engaging with patients and the public in a meaningful way, including via our website as well as in-person events, and we commit to addressing the issues of diversity and accessibility highlighted in the report.
We want to take this opportunity to thank the Independent Reviewers for their thoughtful and committed engagement with our work. By holding us to account, recognising where we’re getting it right and challenging us where we can improve, they’ll help us to do a better job for patients, nurses, doctors, carers, families, and all those who rely on healthcare systems around the world.