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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.