News you may have missed. Over the holidays, Babylon Health took some hard knocks on two fronts, right after the announcement of their expansion into North America.
The Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) rapped the developer of GP at Hand fairly hard on their expansion plans to this Northern city. “We are not convinced that Babylon GP at Hand’s model of care is sufficiently integrated with other local and national services to ensure safe and effective care for local people. Areas of concern include screening programmes and safeguarding. We therefore asked Hammersmith and Fulham CCG, the formal commissioner of BGPaH, to object to the Babylon proposal to begin operating in Manchester from early 2020.” There is a 1,001-person cap on registrations which may be lifted this month if Babylon can address and mitigate these patient concerns.
It should be said that Birmingham had similar concerns to Manchester, but a similar cap was lifted last month. Babylon’s stated strategy is to work with the CCGs on their concerns to successfully roll out the service to offer in-person appointments and 24-hour digital appointments by early 2020. Digital Health
There’s also been charges of gender bias in diagnosis of cardiac symptoms by Babylon’s chatbot. When presented with
identical cardiac symptoms, the chatbot reportedly will tell a man to seek immediate care, but a woman is advised that it may be a panic attack or even depression. Here’s the Twitter discussion between @DrMurphy11 and past TTA contributor Carolyn Thomas, the “Heart Sister”, on this bias. When asked, Dr. Keith Grimes, Babylon’s Clinical Innovation Director, replied:
Ms. Thomas is a long-time Canadian writer and activist on women living with cardiac conditions, how they are often misdiagnosed (The Grinch’s Guide to Women’s Heart Attacks), and how women’s symptoms of cardiac disease differ. Her blog is personal, interesting, and informative. (Do read her 22 December post on the Christmas truce of December 1914)