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Babylon pledges £75m to develop AI for managing chronic conditions

Babylon has pledged £75m to develop artificial intelligence that will help GPs diagnose and manage chronic conditions, the private health provider has announced.

The funding will go towards building a workforce of over 1,000 scientists, engineers and clinicians to expand Babylon's digital offering into chronic disease management.

Babylon CEO Dr Ali Parsa said a shortage of healthcare providers has meant that ‘sometimes those who are most in need – such as people with chronic conditions like mental health or diabetes - do not receive the consistent care they deserve’.

He added that AI ‘has the potential to improve the capacity of our healthcare professionals to safely care for more patients’.

According to the latest workforce figures the NHS has lost nearly 5,000 GP partners in a decade and 523 full-time equivalent GPs in since March.

He told Pulse that the Babylon app's symptom checker 'will expand into chronic disease management so we can assess [patients] for chronic diseases and we can also in addition to that manage the chronic diseases'.

Dr Parsa said: 'What [those with chronic diseases] find is that when they see a doctor it's fine but all other times they're left alone. So we can monitor them.

'If you are suicidal and you are chronically depressed, if you spend three days at home and if you are looking through your phone more than usual, we know that you're more likely to attempt suicide.

'But the only time we know is when you have attempted it and ended up in A&E. But we could intervene. We could say - hey, I notice you're at home a little bit, can I help you?'

Head of primary care and public health at Imperial College London Professor Azeem Majeed told Pulse that AI ‘has a lot of potential in healthcare, including in primary care’ and with the shortage of doctors, ‘if some of their work can be taken on by AI-based tools, this would help relieve some of the pressures’.

However, he added: ‘AI would also need considerable evaluation before it could be rolled out into routine clinical practice.

‘This would include assessing its safety and effectiveness, and also its acceptability to patients and health professionals.’

Dr Chris Arden, a Southampton-based GP with special interest in cardiology, said: 'Given the nature of our interaction in primary care I think there still will be a lot of value obviously in the personal contact and that relationship with the patient and that's something that will never be replaced.'


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Readers' comments (18)

  • And you use of 'fair' and 'all' is misleading. What you mean is equal, even if it is unfair. What's 'fair'? Say for example, an overstayer who has never paid a penny into the Treasury, being treated like a citizen and allowed access to say fertility treatment? That's patently unfair, but if you want 'equal' treatment for everyone in the country, that would be what you're promoting. What would make it fair, would be covering the basics for the 10-20% of the population that can't provide for themselves. Everyone else is then responsible for their own individual healthcare needs and hence, own PERSONAL HEALTH. A lower tax burden through reduced government spending, would then give breathing room and opportunity for altruism/charity, look at post-war USA for example.

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  • Christopher Ho ,

    Are you seriously advocating an American Style Health System ?

    I cannot think of any model that is worse.

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  • Faithful, no, their system is changing anyways. Look further afield, look global... I like Singapore's system, but obviously the society, demographics, politics, are different. Also, how would you define 'worse'? You would have to agree as a population what your targeted parameters are before you decide your ideal system. The population might be happy to be taxed to death to cover 'from cradle to grave' regardless of the wastage, the misuse, the unfairness, the politicking, the incentive to medicalise, to the illness behaviour, the nannying, etc. I simply propose, that for the good of the whole(country and citizens), history has shown so far, what has worked most efficiently, and that is minimal state intervention and spending, small tax burden, giving the individual the freedom and liberty to do good, rather than compelling them via use of force, which makes them less likely to do so.

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  • If the government didn’t waste so much of the money on IT and reorganisations and Quangos and Revalidation etc etc then there would be money enough to go around. At least for the next 50 years.

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  • The uk’s future is very bright

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  • Christopher Ho unfortunately your intelligent Milton Friedman economics won’t catch on in the uk. Too much socialism and stupid decision makers for anything half as intelligent as a true Friedman economic model to take hold. The consequences are plain to see. Pointless even fighting the system. Will never change. A state of entropy has ensued.

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  • AlanAlmond

    Another amazing article discussing push Dr/Babylon. Can’t get enough of these guys, I’m sure everyone else agrees. Precious little else going down in medicine thase days. It’s really big news. Wow ...keep it coming PULSE, we are all hot for any info on push Dr. Yes we are.

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  • Harry, I haven't given up hope yet. It all starts with education, it needs to be criticised for the poor standard public education that is being pumped out and privatised to allow free market forces to drive up quality again. And if we influence enough, the ballot box will show the way.

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