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Dr Mobasher Butt is at the cutting edge of a revolution in private GP services.
As patients are increasingly willing to pay to avoid long waiting lists at their NHS surgery, his company Babylon Health has been striking big deals across the NHS.
It offers private online video or telephone GP consultations at £25 a pop, and is at the crest of a wave of companies offering paid-for GP services online that have made waves this year. These include the ‘Uber-style’ online booking service Doctaly, which matches NHS GPs with patients for a £40 fee, and GPDQ, which offers a GP home visit within 90 minutes for £120.
As medical director at Babylon Health, Dr Butt probably has the biggest list of any GP, with overall clinical responsibility for around 500,000 patients registered in the UK, and almost a million patients worldwide.
And the company continues to expand, aiming to replace call handlers in the NHS 111 service with a pilot of its triage app, which currently covers 1.5 million patients in London, using machine learning to hone the accuracy of the recommendations it gives to patients.
But this expansion has not been without controversy. Babylon was involved in a scheme where NHS practices cut waiting times by offering the opportunity for a private consultation when patients contact the practice. The company was also featured in the national press when it advertised at the RCGP conference this year that GPs joining them could earn £90k a year.
Milestones for Dr Butt this year include taking Babylon through its CQC inspection and his personal highlight – launching the Babylon service in Rwanda.
This is ‘the first national digital healthcare service of its kind in Africa’ and Dr Butt said he spent a third of last year in the country establishing ‘e-health standards’ and clinical pathways with the Ministry of Health as well as recruiting and training local clinicians.
And if that’s not enough, next year’s project is to ‘re-engineer the whole GP consultation process through technology’ – he is definitely someone who thinks big.
GP driving forward the private online services market
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