Southwark CCG drops Babylon asthma AI pilot following GP at Hand concerns

  • 27 March 2018
Southwark CCG drops Babylon asthma AI pilot following GP at Hand concerns
IBM’s AI unit Watson Health has signed a 10-year agreement with Harrow Council in London to use machine learning to delivery social care.

A clinical commissioning group has dropped plans to pilot an asthma artificial intelligence project with Babylon after concerns were raised relating to the recent roll-of the company’s GP at Hand service.

According to March board papers from Southwark CCG, the project, which also involved the research-based bio-pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, has been “terminated” with all parties informed.

The papers add the decision was made after concerns were raised by a south London branch of the Local Medical Committee (LMC) and GP Federations which “related to the Babylon GP at Hand service”.

A spokesman for the London LMC said in a statement that it was alerted about the pilot back in November.

Plans involved bringing in a service where online consultations with nurses, powered by Babylon, could be offered to asthma patients.

There was also the option for patients to have their consultation passed to a Babylon GP if they “wanted to discuss more complex issues”.

The London LMC spokesman added: “The LMC raised concerns that this would unnecessarily fragment patient care for both asthma and any other health issues patients may raise during these consultations.

“The LMC’s preference was that if additional asthma services were to be offered then practices should be resourced to deliver them to their own registered patients, therefore maintaining continuity of care.”

Launched in November 2017, Babylon’s GP at Hand service is a free, NHS-commissioned and funded service that promises to cut GP waiting times by allowing patients to book appointments and talk to their doctor through their smartphone.

The service was originally rolled out across a handful of practices across London and a further expansion was reviewed after NHS England lodged a “formal objection”.

A Babylon spokesman said it was “disappointing” that the asthma AI trial has been dropped, but added that it was “respectful” of Southwark CCG’s decision.

They added: “We hope there might be future opportunities to explore this important area of patient care provision”.

Digital Health News has approached Southwark CCG for a comment.

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