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Babylon teams up with BUPA to significantly expand online GP offering

Babylon is set to expand the number of people using its GP app by ‘several tens of thousands’ from this month, following a deal with BUPA.

Babylon, which also offers NHS-funded service ‘GP at Hand’ to patients across England, will make their app available to BUPA insurance holders at all corporate businesses across the UK.

The deal promises ‘unlimited’ access to a GP via phone call or video within two hours, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This comes after Babylon launched a similar deal with Samsung earlier this month that saw the app pre-installed on all compatible Samsung mobile devices.

Under the agreement, employees of corporate businesses that offer BUPA insurance, and their families, will be able to request an unlimited number of GP consultations within two hours, every day of the year.

Users will also have the ability to text questions directly to a GP after having gone through the apps ‘clinical triage’ service and could be written a prescription ‘with same day delivery or collection service’. 

Babylon told Pulse that the partnership between the two companies ‘has the potential to extend our membership base by several tens of thousands’.

Dr Ali Parsa, Babylon founder and CEO, said: ‘Now that we know what works for employees and how much impact it can have for employers – we can expand to help even more companies thrive in increasingly challenging times.

Imagine how much more productive the world will be when every employee is free from the fear of limited access to healthcare.

‘This fear impacts families daily and we are humbled to find a partner with so much expertise and experience.’

Mark Allan, commercial director of BUPA UK Insurance said: ‘Working with Babylon, we’re able to give corporate businesses access to 24/7 virtual health services. 

‘We often hear that time is a barrier to looking after our health, which is why we’re investing in digital solutions that are convenient and quick to access through an app.

‘We share Babylon’s mission to make healthcare more accessible which is why it’s important we utilise the latest in digital health to help our customers lead healthy lives and offer assurance when they need it.’

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'This is a commercial decision about private general practice, and as with any private health insurance its for individuals or companies to decide whether they want to buy the product being offered.'

However, Doctors in Unite chair Dr David Wrigley, who is also GPC representitive for Cumbria and Lancashire, told Pulse: 'There would be no need for such services to expand if this Government had adequately funded and looked after NHS general practice.

'They have decimated general practice on their watch and we’ll see more non NHS services popping up unless general practice sees a massive investment.'

The news comes as Babylon now has 200 GPs on its roster, working across its private and NHS services, remotely or from its London headquarters.

These tend to a growing number of users, including half a million using its private GP services and 26,500 registered with its NHS-funded GP at Hand app.

GP leaders have expressed significant concern about the NHS app, which is as yet only available to patients across London, arguing the service 'cherry-picks' fit, young and healthy patients. Claims that GP at Hand has refuted.

Readers' comments (7)

  • It is a gimmick, that can only work short term. It will make them a lot of money, and unfortunately destabilise traditional General Practice, valued by the rest of us for its continuity of care.

    I'm so glad that I resigned my partnership. I can look on without losing my shirt.

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  • AlanAlmond

    Yawn. This truely pisses me off when it’s offered on the NHS dressed up as an alternative to the face to face GP model with equal funding, but as a private service it’s just boring. A lot of irrelevant tech fuelled hot air. This is no more full blown medical care than giving someone a dedicated Dr staffed call center number. Really the fuss it’s creating is just free advertising for the business folk looking to expand their business. For me it’s only interesting for the fact they’ve conned some fools on a CCG in London to fund it on the NHS. Otherwise is nothing, really classic tech hyperbole destined to be exposed for the emptiness is actually is. At least some Drs get an option for income outside the NHS monopoly, but as ‘game changing’ way to deliver health care ...give me a break.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Sometimes I just thought we might have given too much time and space to talk about this on this platform .
    Considering how many people read and 'monitor' this site , Pulse perhaps should send a bill to Babylon for advertising their services?!

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  • Very true with the above - there is nothing we can do about it, NHs leaders are keen to see it happen.

    We just have to get on with general practice and what patients actually want. If we find patients decreasing in practices - we should accordingly drop staff and clinical sessions

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  • WellI for one I am fascinated even if none of you are;https://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/new_reports/AAAG6526.pdf
    The service has been inspected by our old friend Prof Field,the report is interesting,a wealth of buzz phrases and references to guidelines,with absolutely no real information as to what these guys are actually doing.
    Amazingly he actually states they did not speak to any patients,personally I would cite this as an excellent example of why there is absolutely no hope for sanity in the NHS
    He is concerned that Asthma prescriptions are in line with guidelines,no mention of the absence of pulse,peak flow, paradox and listening to the chest.He is concerned that the doctors have child protection training,no mention that you cannot see if the child is covered in bruises because it is a telephone consultation
    The whole issue of technology is a red herring.
    We could all do the same thing,just stack the calls every morning,phone the patients and prescribe,but that is not in line with all we have ever been taught.
    Were all our teachers wrong?


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  • Bob Hodges

    "Imagine how much more productive the world will be when every employee is free from the fear of limited access to healthcare."

    What a bunch of shit.

    Who's paying? Where are the GPs coming from?

    This is not Uber - there are not people out there that can suddenly become GPs so you can become a monopsony employer and control wages.

    Don't get me started on AI and 'algorithms' either. You need to be a GP to use one properly.

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  • I was always taught that at least 80% of the diagnosis is in the history, so to a certain degree tech solutions have their place. But I've seen a lot of inappropriate antibioitic precribing within these services and I suspect the clinical risk is higher due to the inability to gain the remaining 20% of the information that examination can provide.

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