A UK hospital did not do enough to protect the privacy of patients when it shared data with Google

Reported: A UK hospital did not do enough to protect the privacy of patients when it shared data with Google; the ICO disapproved the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust about data handed over during trials of a novel way to detect kidney injuries.


ICO said that the hospital did not provide enough information to the patients about the way their data was used. Also the trust added it would tackle “shortcomings” in its data-handling.


During the early stages of the medical trial last year about 1.6 million patients medical file details was given to Google’s DeepMind division. Patient’s information was use to develop system that sends an alert, diagnosis and detects spot when patients are at risk of developing AKI (acute kidney injury). 


Therefore, an app called Streams was designed to help doctors spot patients at risk of AKI. “The price of information innovation does not need to be the erosion of fundamental privacy rights,” said information commissioner Elizabeth Denham.


However the trust has signed an undertaking to make changes to the way it handles data, and has pledged to:

-        Sort out the legal basis for future trials with DeepMind and other companies

-        Set out how it will meet its duty of confidence to patients in future trials

-        Assess the impact the trial has had on privacy

-        Audit the trial to see how it performed and share the details with the ICO


                    According to Royal Free, they had co-operated fully with the ICO’s investigation and welcomed the guidance it had received on the best way to use patient data in future trials. 

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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