The private digital GP provider, Babylon Health, has announced a 10-year partnership with Royal Wolverhampton Trust that aims to use technology to transform the way patients access healthcare.

The partnership claims to be the “world’s first integrated digital healthcare system,” and aims to create “joined up care” that allows patients to access NHS primary, secondary and community healthcare services through a single app.

The CEO of the Wolverhampton Trust, David Loughton has ambitious plans for the role of digital technology telling the Times, “I think 50 per cent of consultations could be done remotely.”

Remote

The plans include remote access to GPs and hospital specialists, patient monitoring for those with chronic conditions and rehabilitation following hospital stays.

The Daily Mail reported that the “Royal Wolverhampton plans to sell the technology to the rest of the NHS if the partnership is successful.”

Artificial intelligence will also be utilised to triage and provide medical information to patients, based on their symptoms.

The new partnership will provide a service for around 300,000 people across Wolverhampton and surrounding areas although David Loughton told the HSJ he does expect some flack from local GPs.

GPs don’t like it

“They don’t like Babylon. They see Babylon as creaming off the not very ill and [being] left with the not very fit, but you cannot possibly just stay with that view.”

But he is determined to plough ahead quoting the scale of workforce challenges as a major reason for the new approach.

Babylon claims to be able to utilise a national network of clinicians to help free up local clinicians to spend more time with complex patients.

Babylon’s existing services

Babylon Health has a contract with NHS England to register patients to the GP at Hand app.

The Royal College of GPs and BMA have both criticised the service for ‘cherry picking’ younger, healthier patients. This leaves other GP services to deal with patients requiring more complex care.

Babylon’s diagnosis software has also come in for criticism. An anonymous NHS doctor who tweets under the name @DrMurphy11 has tested the Babylon app repeatedly, highlighting failures in its ability to detect potentially fatal  health conditions.

More on Babylon Health from our Lowdown Q&A

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BA International Development Graduate from University of Sussex.

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