The Independent Review Panel for DeepMind Health has published its second annual report today, focusing on business models, the relationship between DeepMind Health and its parent company, Alphabet, and the clinical utility of the applications it is developing.

It also sets out twelve principles that the Panel will use to assess DeepMind Health’s activities in the future. These principles provide a useful set of expectations that could be broadly applied to other commercial organisations working with the NHS on health technology projects.

The panel report raises pressing questions about DeepMind Health’s business model, mindful of public concerns about how tech businesses look to make money from the use and processing of data. Transparency will be very important here, otherwise people may assume there is a hidden agenda for the company even if it is developing applications that seek to serve the public good and benefit patients.

The report also discusses the challenges of ensuring the applications developed by DeepMind Health are useful in a clinical context. This is particularly important given the long history of tech innovations that have failed to take root in the health service because they haven’t been designed with enough understanding of the work needed to make data useable, or with attention to how they could be implemented in practice to improve patient outcomes.

A third area the report comments on is the need for careful co-design. The design of applications needs to be user-centred if they are to add value to the way clinicians work. This includes tailoring applications to different hospital context and being mindful of issues such as ‘alert fatigue’ for clinicians using the apps.

The report also comments on public, patient and user engagement, issues of law, regulation and data governance, and data security. DeepMind Health also responds on how it is working to embed user involvement and public engagement into its work, as well as developing new approaches to information governance and transparency.

Natalie Banner, Lead for Understanding Patient Data said:

“We welcome the principles set out by DeepMind Health’s Independent Review Panel report today, which provide a strong standard to live up to for companies seeking to work with the NHS. There is more to be done but it is encouraging that DeepMind Health are open to this level of scrutiny.”

This comes after an audit report of the use of the Streams app used at the Royal Free London, developed by DeepMind.