Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind has launched a new division to work with NHS clinicians on developing technology to improve patient care.

DeepMind Health’s first project is an iPhone app designed to help identify patients at risk of dangerous complications.

Developed with the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, Streams will help clinical staff detect cases of Acute Kidney Injury, which is a contributing factor in up to 20% of emergency hospital admissions.

Consultant nephrologist and associate medical director for patient safety at the Royal Free, Dr Chris Laing, helped design the app and oversaw two initial pilots at the hospital.

“Using Streams meant I was able to review blood tests for patients at risk of AKI within seconds of them becoming available. I intervened earlier and was able to improve the care of over half the patients Streams identified in our pilot studies,” he said.

The app does not actually use AI and is still in very early development, but the aim is to do some peer-reviewed research of it later this year.

DeepMind has also acquired Hark, a clinical task management app co-developed by Professor Ara Darzi and Dr Dominic King at Imperial College London and the National Institute for Health Research.

A statement from DeepMind Health says the developers have, “spent the last five years rigorously researching the definition, prioritisation and allocation of core hospital tasks using digital platforms.”

The app aims to improve communication and therefore improve the speed at which effective care is delivered. It has already been tested at St Mary’s Hospital and showed clinicians using it responded 37% faster than with a pager system.

The plan is to integrate the work of Hark into the Streams app over coming months.

Darzi said: “This has the potential to transform healthcare delivery, but as clinicians and researchers we can only take digital solutions like this so far. To build and scale these tools across the NHS we need to work with the world’s leading technologists who share our commitment to safe and high quality care for all.”

The announcement on DeepMind Health says the programme is based on three guiding principles; nurses and doctors know best; stand behind the NHS; and build technologies that work together.

It also addressed the issue of data protection, saying that patient data will only be used for the purpose of improving healthcare. Data will only be stored in the UK and will not be linked with associated Google accounts of services.

A group of independent reviewers will meet four times a year to scrutinise the new company’s work with the NHS, including reviewing data sharing agreements and privacy measures.

DeepMind is a London-based artificial intelligence company that Google bought for £360 million in 2014.