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NHS England chief medical adviser met with Babylon about AI

Chief medical officer of NHS England Sir Bruce Keogh met twice with online GP app provider Babylon Health last year.

Asked what the meetings - one in July and one in September - were about, NHS England said Sir Bruce asked to visit Babylon Health on a 'personal education visit to find out about AI (artificial intelligence) and how they were using it'.

A spokesperson said he did not discuss Babylon’s involvement with the GP at Hand app, which launched across London in November.

They added that Sir Bruce was also planning to visit IBM to learn more about their AI system.

'He is interested in AI. He does a few industry visits,’ he said.

A Babylon Health spokesman said: ‘We regularly speak to a variety of leading figures from the medical profession.'

‘We welcomed the opportunity to share with Sir Bruce the world-leading AI work we are doing.’

NHS England declined to give details on what specific AI solutions Sir Bruce was interested in.



Readers' comments (4)

  • Sir Bruce don't you understand that AI will actually increase demand, investigation and referrals and therefore costs: Ask AI ' I have a severe headache' - answer 'go to A&E.'

    The salvation of the NHS has to support and public health campaigns about appropriate and safe self-care..

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  • Soren @ 1104hr

    I told Siri (iOS 11) that I have a severe headache, and Siri showed me the closest pharmacy on the map... :)

    And I agree wholeheartedly with the promotion of self-care that you recommend

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  • Anonymous Locum GP

    makes sense

    doctors are expensive and can make mistakes simply as they don't perform consistently or well under stress.

    AI is cheaper and will perform consistently.

    the question is risk - who will patients sue if AI goes wrong? Babylon? HMG? or will HMG change the rules.

    regardless, I've also viewed Keogh as part of the state - I get the feeling if he could get rid of us all he would.

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  • EC

    There are many considerations here that could be made and surely I remain to be convinced that there is a logic ground for thinking that something like Babylon will be a cost and time effective "experiment". I would surely advocate that the Babylon "owners" could run a "privately funded" trial in a "private practice only" context, and for a few years. If successful, then NHS could consider contracting Babylon. To be said about AI: be mindful much of the clinical data that we feed AIs is imperfect, hence we should not expect perfect answers. In fact, errors could scale-up vertiginously. Recognising that is the first step in managing the risk. Decision-making processes built on top of AIs need to be made much more open to scrutiny. As someone else said before me: "Since we are building artificial intelligence in our own image, it is likely to be both as brilliant and as flawed as we are".

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