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Independents' Day

Samsung phones to come with Babylon's GP app pre-installed

Millions of people will see Babylon's GP app pre-installed on their mobile phones going forward, after the private GP company announced a deal with tech-giant Samsung.

Babylon, which also offers NHS-funded service 'GP at Hand' to patients across London, launched the 'Ask an Expert' function within the Samsung Health app as of yesterday.

The function allows users to check their symptoms and book unlimited video appointments with a Babylon GP at a cost of £50 per year, or £25 for a one-off consultation.

Users can also order and manage prescriptions via the app, which is pre-installed on all compatible Samsung mobile devices.

Babylon founder and chief executive officer Dr Ali Parsa said: 'It’s very exciting to know that millions of Samsung users will soon be able to better manage their health using Babylon’s services as we deliver personal health assessments and treatment advice via their Samsung Galaxy devices.’

Samsung UK’s head of technology and services Kyle Brown said: ‘Now our customers will be able to look after their health from wherever they are – whether it’s checking a symptom or talking to a doctor – all within a few simple taps.’

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘As GPs face unmanageable workloads in the face of rising demand and chronic underfunding, waiting times for appointments are getting longer and patients are understandably frustrated.

'It is this situation in an NHS at breaking point that provides growing opportunities for private providers, who are likely to cherry-pick healthier patients at the expense of those with more care needs.'

And he argued that apps such as this were 'no replacement' for traditional general practice.

He said: ‘While apps such as this – and similar services available on the NHS – can provide access to a doctor via video, they are no replacement for the unparalleled, free at the point of access registered list-based system that has underpinned general practice for the last 70 years. The benefits of seeing the same practice team, embedded within the community, and offering continued person-based care cannot be disputed.

‘As general practice evolves for the 21st century, technology has much to offer for both doctors and patients, but it is NHS England and CCGs that are responsible for IT provision and they need to step up their support for practices so that they can embrace new ways of working.’

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 (17)

  • OOOH that Mr Arkwright and his Spinning Jenny modification. Its just no replacement for etc etc etc.
    Consumers aren't stupid and almost certainly already have an instinctive and pretty accurate assessment of the advantages and limitations of this technology. .

    The only argument old style GP can reasonably muster is at least let us have a level playing field.

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  • AlanAlmond

    No problem with this is people want to pay for it, why not? If your a GP working for them and are happy to consult by video and have such an inflated sense of your own clinical accumen that you genuinely believe physical examination is no longer required ‘in the 21st century’ go for it, I’m sure your right, you don’t need to examin anyone, your too clever and ‘now’ for that.

    But as far as the guy above who confidently asserts ‘Consumers aren't stupid and almost certainly already have an instinctive and pretty accurate assessment of the advantages and limitations of this technology. ’...really? What an empty, vacuous and baseless statement. Consumers consume, that’s what a consumer is. You dontt need a PhD in consumer health care economics to buy a mars bar, or a Samsung for that matter. Sounds like you’d be perfect as a Babylon Dr. Iikly you already are. Keep an eye out for your antibiotics and practice safe ;)

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  • MyBad @2.31pm.

    I agree with you fully.But I wouldn't worry- doctors who do video consultations will be having flashbacks to the day when they did their CSA and had their clinical skills rigorously assessed on actors./s.

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  • Council of Despair

    don't blame Babylon for this - they are businessmen looking to market and sell a product.

    since I've been a GP the very same people have been representing us for years (i didn't vote for them) and look where we are now so I blame the turkeys that keep voting for xmas.

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  • It’s morally wrong. The world is seriously Fxxxxd up

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  • Dear All,
    Consumers consume and they consume what the digital world encourages them to consume.
    My only observation is that £50 per year for unlimited video appointments with a GP for a year is a bargain and cannot be sustainable.
    Paul C

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  • MyBad above - you can't spell btw.

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  • And if you had read my comment more carefully you would have realised I am a very old fashioned traditional GP.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Arguments about justice and rights are often arguments about the purpose, or telos, of a social institution, which in turn reflect competing notions of the virtues the institution should reward and honour
    Michael J Sandel

    If NHS , as a social institution, decides that unlimited video consultations should be rewarded and honoured , so be it and let it be . But exactly what is the telos of 21st century NHS on its 70th birthday? Taxpayers’ money to pay for populism? What is the meaning of healthcare?

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  • I'm afraid this is the future. Most modern phones can take your pulse and O2 sats too. I am a Gp partner and am not involved in Babylon or any others though can see the benefits. Maybe patients will get used to paying to access Gp services though £50 for a year must be a carrot. Would go up the next year/

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