Google’s DeepMind’s been at it again as it goes full throttle and develops what could be the first significant application yet of artificial intelligence (AI) in the healthcare industry. The new AI can detect eye disease far more efficiently than any human doctor. For the last two years, the AI has been on a trail through the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) in conjunction with Moorfields Eye Hospital.
“In specific areas like medical imaging, you can see we’re going to make really tremendous progress in the next couple of years with artificial intelligence, said Dr Dominic King, clinical lead for DeepMind Health. “Machine learning could have a very important role picking up things more sensitively and specifically than currently happens.”
By analysing the retinal images of patients the AI’s algorithm can detect any signs of the three most serious eye diseases: age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Peng Tee Khaw is the director of research and development over at Moorfields and he is confident that anything learned from this research will help put a stop to these devastating eye diseases.
The other good thing about the research is that it’s pretty universal and can be applied to other kinds of images. DeepMind’s future plans include training the algorithm on radiotherapy scans. This will be done in partnership with both University College London Hospitals and Imperial College London.
Adopting the use of AI in hospitals can save a great deal of time and money. It can also reduce the need for doctors to carry out repetitive work. Instead and AI can do it freeing the doctor to carry out more important tasks. That doesn’t mean that firms are still ok to break the law.
However, that’s just what the NHS Trust did last year when it allowed DeepMind access to move than 1.5 million patient’s medical records. Since then the technology firm has devoted both time and money into setting up a research unit that focused on both the social and ethical implications the AI was having on the rest of the world.
“[Artificial intelligence] needs to be implemented and evaluated I would say as rigorously as a new pharmaceutical medical device so you have evidence that then allows you to scale up across a health system,” said Dr King.
DeepMind was founded back in 2010, but acquired by Google in 2014.