Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google's artificial intelligence company DeepMind Health has signed an agreement with a hospital that is part of the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) network to deploy Streams, an app that monitors critical indicators of a patient's health and alerts doctors. This is the second such deal signed by DeepMind this year. Earlier, the company signed a similar agreement for patient data with three hospitals that operate under the NHS umbrella. As part of the agreements, DeepMind receives access to important patient data and medical histories.

News reports have alleged that DeepMind obtained the data without explicit consent from the affected patients. For its part, the company states that its data access is covered by "implied consent under direct care" provisions and that it has not shared the data with other services owned by its parent company. Alphabet operates other health-related companies such as Verily. (See also: FDA Approves Consumer Genetic Tests.)

However, the U.K.'s National Data Guardian is not convinced with DeepMind's explanation. The watchdog sent the company a letter in May stating that it had obtained patient data on an "inappropriate legal basis." Dame Fiona Caldicott, the Department of Health's National Data Guardian, wrote that the "... purpose for the transfer of 1.6 million identifiable patient records to Google DeepMind was for the testing of the Streams application, and not for the provision of direct care to patients."

Most artificial intelligence companies have an ethics board that consists of notable members from different fields. DeepMind also has an ethics board, but the company has not divulged its composition or the matters discussed by the board. "It's an internal board, so confidential matters are discussed on that. And so far, we feel that a lot of it, the purpose of the board currently is to educate the people on that board as to the issues and bring everyone up to speed," Demis Hassabis, DeepMind co-founder and CEO, told The Guardian. (See also: 2 AI Stocks Set to Break Out to New Highs.)

Online tech publication TechCrunch has a deep dive along with an interview with a hospital director on the proposed cost savings and benefits from deploying the Streams app. A recent report by technology consulting firm Accenture states that the market for applications of artificial intelligence services in healthcare will grow at a compound annual rate of 40% and is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021. (See also: Sports Betting: The Next Big Thing for Artificial Intelligence.)

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