Alphabet’s artificial intelligence outfit, DeepMind, plans to build a blockchain-style system that will carefully track how every shred of patient data is used.
The company, which is rapidly expanding its health-care initiatives, has announced that it will build a tool that it calls Verifiable Data Audit during the course of this year. The idea: allow hospitals, and potentially even patients, to see exactly who is using health-care records, and for what purpose.
Like blockchain, the system will use cryptographic mathematics to keep an accurate record of what’s happened in the past. Every time a piece of data is used, a new code is generated, which is based on all previous activity. That means that if someone later goes back to edit a previous record—say, to hide the fact that they used a piece of data for a particular purpose—it would mess up every subsequent record and be quickly revealed.
The tool will initially be tested with hospitals that DeepMind is already working with in the U.K., including London’s Royal Free Hospital. DeepMind says that hospital staff will be able to see how the company is utilizing the data in real time, as well as setting up automated alerts to signal unusual use. The hospitals could open access to patients at some point in the future.