AI promises, promises! Babylon Health to spend $100m, hire 1,000 to develop leading AI platform

Babylon Health’s CEO Ali Parsa announced at their headquarters last week that the company would be spending $100 million to develop the ‘world’s leading AI healthcare platform’. In the company of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, an admitted GP at hand fan (nothing goes better after poring over your red boxes), Mr. Parsa confirmed that the 1,000 data scientists, programmers, and clinicians would be based in London after a global search of suitable cities. They will be helping to design the next generation of health AI for diagnosis and to support patients with long-term conditions. 

The report in Digital Health noted that the audience included key figures such as Malcolm Grant, chairman of NHS England; Dr Simon Eccles, NHS England CCIO; and Juliette Bauer, head of digital experience. This is despite Babylon challenging the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over an unfavorable report [TTA 11 Dec] and being put on hold by Birmingham as well as Hammersmith and Fulham CCGs [TTA 23 Aug].

Babylon is well able to afford this as Prudential Asia (Prudential plc) has licensed Babylon’s software for its own apps across 12 countries in Asia for an estimated $100 million over several years. Forbes  It also inked a deal in June to provide insurer Bupa’s Instant GP to corporate clients [TTA 21 June]. Will this include a foray into the US? No clues so far!

Late summer and early autumn event updates: Save 20% on Connected Health Summit, SEHTA Health + Space, Lilley’s talk with Ali Parsa, PATH Summit, Connected Health Conference, HealthIMPACT

It’s always a little sad to realize that summer is winding down. Some (like your Editor) stretch the summer past Labor Day (the DMZ in the US) into early autumn, taking the philosophy that woolies are way too warm till November. Here are eight substantial events on your calendar to look forward to:

Connected Health Summit, 28-30 August next week, San Diego–Readers Save 20%!

Parks Associates have offered our readers 20% off registration at ‘Connected Health, Independent Living and Engaging Consumers’, the fifth Connected Health Summit organized by Parks Associates. The conference will analyze the roles of connected health technologies and innovations in driving changes in consumer behaviors and business models. Lead speakers are from IBM Watson Health, Alarm.com, Uber Health, and Qualcomm Life. More information and registration here. As a preview, download their latest white papers:  Market Snapshot – Consumer Health Attitudes and IoT Home Living Features and Sleep Tech and IoT. #CONNHealth18

Healthcare and Space Funding Call Brief, 4 September, Cocoon Networks, 4 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS, 10:00 – 13:00

Sponsored by SEHTA, The Knowledge Transfer Network, and MedCity, this will cover funding opportunities for converting innovation from the space sector, from exploration to satellite communications, to new solutions for the health sector and medical applications that improve NHS treatment and care. At this event attendees will hear about them plus have the opportunity to network with organizations from both the health and space sectors. This event is part of the MedTech London programme supported by the GLA. For further information, contact Clare Ansett, Head of Communications, SEHTA

Health Chat with Ali Parsa of Babylon Health, 10 September, RSM, 1 Wimpole Street, London (new venue!)

This Health Chat conducted by Roy Lilley of nhsmanagers.net promises to be eventful. “Has the tide turned in primary care? What effect might Babylon produce? Who are the beneficiaries? What is the future for the traditional primary care GP model?” Tickets are a modest £19.95 – £39.95 and are going quickly. Sponsored by UK HealthGateway, the publishers of nhsmanagers.net. Register here.

PATH Summit, 30 September – 2 October, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington DC

Those of us who wondered what long-time CEO Jonathan Linkous of the American Telemedicine Association has moved on to now have their answer: CEO of PATH, the Partnership for Artificial Intelligence and Automation in Healthcare. Their first Summit will attempt to answer questions like: “Is artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and sensors the future of healthcare or a passing fad?” It will cover AI innovations, best practices, and barriers to beware (boo!) Find out more and register here, but this Editor’s advice (not that it will be taken) is to drop the silly home page quote from the buffoonish and irrelevant Mark Cuban. 

Connected Health Conference, 17-19 October, Boston

The second year of the combined PCHAlliance Connected Health Conference and the Partners Connected Health Symposium at the impressive Seaport World Trade Center kicks off with co-located conferences followed by two full days of events and expo. Preview it and register here

HealthIMPACT has three events from September into December:

HealthIMPACT Midwest – Rev1 Ventures, Columbus, OH, September 27

NODE.Health Evidence in Digital Medicine Roundtable – Microsoft Technology Center Boston – October 16

NODE.Health Digital Medicine Conference – Microsoft Technology Center, New York, NY – December 5-7

Babylon Health ‘chatbot’ triage AI app raises £50 million in funding (UK)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/babylon_lifestyle2.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Babylon Health, which has developed an AI-assisted chatbot to triage a potential patient in minutes, has raised a serious Series B of £50 million (US$60 million). Funders were Kinnevik AB, which had led the Series A, NNC Holdings, and Vostok New Ventures (Crunchbase). According to the FT (through TechCrunch), Babylon’s value is now north of $200 million. Revenues were not disclosed.

The current app uses texts to determine the level of further care, recommends a course of action, then connects the user if needed to a virtual doctor visit, or if acute to go to Accident & Emergency (US=emergency room or department). It also follows up with the user on their test results and health info. The funding will be used to enhance their current AI to extend to diagnosis. They are accumulating daily data on thousands of patients, machine learning which further refines the AI. Founder Dr. Ali Parsa, founder and CEO of Babylon, said in a statement. “Babylon scientists predict that we will shortly be able to diagnose and foresee personal health issues better than doctors, but this is about machines and medics cooperating, not competing.” Like other forms of telemedicine and triage (Zipnosis in health systems), it is designed to put healthcare access and affordability, as they claim, “into the hands of every person on earth”. The NHS pilot in north London [TTA 18 Jan] via the 111 hotline is testing Babylon as a ‘reliever’ though it directs only to a doctor appointment, not a video consult. BBC News, Mobihealthnews

A trio of September meetings

AAL/Bucharest, The Guardian and Kings Fund

As previously highlighted on Telehealth & Telecare Aware, last week was indeed the week of connected health events. This editor made it to three:

AAL/Bucharest

As very much of a supporting act – presenting to researchers on how to do business with the different health organisations across Europe – my principal challenge was getting to the city after the ‘information’ kiosk in the airport told me the hotel I was booked into didn’t exist. Thankfully they were wrong. What I saw of the conference looked good, though there were some bizarre rules on who could have free WiFi.

The Guardian

Wednesday evening brought the Guardian information sharing event which proved especially interesting. (more…)

Babylon app for booking GP visits debuts (UK)

Making news out of Tuesday’s Wired Health UK 2014 at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in London is Babylon. From the app (iPhone, Android), appointments with a GP or specialist can be booked 12 hours a day, six days a week, with one of the almost 100 part time salaried and on call doctors in Babylon’s system or a BUPA (private healthcare/insurance system) physician. Also bookable through the app are diagnostic kits and blood tests;  X-rays or scans would be at a partner facility. Have a question or want to check your symptoms? The app directs your text and pictures to a doctor or nurse. Need a prescription? Delivered to your home or a nearby pharmacy. Record storage is on your phone. All for £7.99/month for basic service or £24 per consult–both low prices that seem to be introductory (a/k/a not profitable) or for light users. Babylon is registered with the Care Quality Commission, an independent healthcare regulator, and has designated body status from NHS London.

Founder Ali Parsa, a former Goldman Sachs banker who previously founded Circle, approvingly says that booking an appointment is as simple as ‘booking a Hailo cab’ (in NYC, Uber). This is a more complete model than a ZocDoc or Vitals (US appointment services) with testing and a symptom checker, but it does not seem to have a video consult (more…)