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Global sum 'may not work well' for GP at Hand model, finds official evaluation

The long-awaited official evaluation of Babylon’s GP at Hand model has concluded that policy maker should consider a different funding model for online GP service providers.

The report, written by Ipsos Mori and published today on the NHS Hammersmith and Fulham CCG website, found that satisfaction with the service was high, but found ’the service is not being used by large numbers of older people, or people with more complex health needs’.

It said that there was a potential impact on neighbouring practices, who would be left with more complex patients, adding that there were ’costs attached to dealing with patients with complex needs that [Babylon] are not incurring’.

The report also found:

  • The success of the GP at Hand model ’implies there is a latent demand for a service of this kind amongst a segment of the population’;
  • Satisfaction was high for most patients, but mainly due to the increased access;
  • Patients may be less likely to attend for screening appointments;
  • GPs who worked at Babylon ‘appear very satisfied’, and suggested it ’may be useful to consider if and how these features can be replicated more widely in conventional general practice’;
  • However, there are implications around GPs living outside of the communities for whom they are providing care;
  • GP at Hand experiences higher rates of deregistering that the rest of London, with patients who deregister typically leavign after two weeks;

The report concluded: ’The evidence available suggests that the Global Sum Allocation Formula may not work well in establishing the costs of providing GP services for patients who choose to be treated through a digital-first service and, therefore, in providing appropriate funding levels.The evaluation has shown that GP at Hand patients have better health than comparable patients using traditional primary care but that they are higher users of primary care.’

It later added: ’Policy makers will also need to consider the appropriateness of the current funding formula for a digital-first service. The current funding formula is based on a number of factors including population demographic and illness profiles, but it does not take into account demand for services. The evaluation has shown that BGPaH patients have better health than comparable patients using traditional primary care but that they are higher users of primary care.

‘Further research would be required to understand whether the higher use of primary care services was a product of specific health concerns or simply due to better accessibility.’

Dr Matthew Noble, medical director (UK Clinical Service), Babylon, said: ’This independent report shows that GP at Hand is loved by all types of patients as they can now access a GP when they need to. I’m particularly pleased that the report has shown how our GPs enjoy their work, aren’t becoming burned out and how our digital-first approach may even be a way of encouraging GPs to stay in the profession and to help recruit more doctors into general practice.

’The findings show Babylon GP at Hand isn’t just of great benefit to patients and GPs, it is also saving the NHS time and money. When you consider that the average A&E visit costs £160 and the average outpatient appointment £1252 then you can see how quickly Babylon GP at Hand and digital-first services can have a positive impact for the NHS.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • I would love it if these “features could be replicated” more widely.

    A level playing field would be nice...

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  • Dear All,
    So if patients are de-registering after 2 weeks that means no payment at all for the practice for a massive proportion of its "List". We are only paid on basis of patients on the list on each quarterly date. So this model is not financially viable? If they leave after 2 weeks and they've had one or two GP@Hand consultations GP@Hand will receive no funding for providing those interactions, unless the 2 weeks spans a quarter payment date.
    I'd love to have a look at those accounts.....
    Regards
    Paul C

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  • Vinci Ho

    Once again , isn’t liberty (more easy access) taking equality for granted (excluding these patients work complex needs )?

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  • Loved by all types of patient, but not by the elderly, pregnant,ones with chronic conditions, children and those with a mental illness!Those with a NEED are encouraged to go elsewhere.FFS this BS beggars belief, while the rest of the 'Jewel in the crown 'burns to the ground.

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  • So stating the bleeding obvious was worth £250,000 ?

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  • National Hopeless Service

    The problem with what I have read about this report is that it doesnt focus on what patients are 'consulting' with. Given the age band, the high consultation rate and lack of desire for continuation of care I can only assume that its used for self limiting, worried well trivia that probably didnt need ANY medical input.

    The NHS was set up when people were dying of diptheria, polio, pneumonia, TB, Tetanus etc. the eradication of these conditions has been highly successful but its resulted in the threshold of perceived illness dropping to snotty noses and insect bites being an illness that 'requires' intervention. The NHS wasnt designed for this and its no longer sustainable.

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  • ''....policy maker should consider a different funding model for online GP service providers.'' But Why???
    Because they are private and deserve to earn better than us GMS Contractors?
    These wise policy makers have already created a 2 tier system where APMS Contract are being given at anything from 145 to 250 pounds per patient and now even without procurement procedure being followed whereas neighbouring GMS are still working for around 90 providing a better service.
    GMS Practices with young populations are at times paid for only 70-80% of list size even if they have tried to help out by taking more young vulnerable patients.
    Most of Babylon's users would be, I guess, tech savvy young people and there is no reason why Babylon should be favoured.

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  • ’The evidence available suggests that the Global Sum Allocation Formula may not work well in establishing the costs of providing GP services for patients......’ etc
    Oops! You didn’t mean to admit that the ‘Global Sum Allocation Formula’ is just a scam anyway!

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